This is no Cannes, or even a San Sebastian, though Baily must often feel pierced by arrows of frustration that her festival organized at film schools in Chicago is not better funded. "Our budget hasn't gone up," she admits, though grateful for funding from UCSD that keeps the series alive (it doesn't allow her to attend other festivals to scan the goodies). And so, "we haven't increased the number of movies this year, but I think our overall quality is better.
We rejected more features this year, and we preview most of our movies through videotapes, not depending as much as we used to on word-of-mouth recommendation." Baily feels that other high points will be a low-budget work by American tyro and film buff George Hickenlooper, "The Low Life," which is about "rootless guys hanging around L.A. hoping to be filmmakers. He says he will come down for it."
And Juzo ("Tampopo") Itami's new work, "The Last Dance," is "different from his other movies. It's about the treatment of the terminally ill in Japan, which is a touchy issue there." If you can offer both Robbe-Grillet and Jackie Chan, you've got some kind of fest. And Baily is proud to offer such cin-exotica as "Who Is the Monster -- You or Me?," a documentary on artist Nikki de Saint Phalle, "who did the famous sun god sculpture here on campus, and who winters here although she is best known in Europe.
Nikki will be here for the showing." More to come The fest has 24 features lined up, and Baily may add a few more. There is a night of short works and she hopes to show shorts "with many of the films, since they get so little time in standard theaters." Some movies she'd love to show elude her: too pricey, too few prints, too many restrictions, fear of short-circuiting a Landmark commercial run (though "we're working pretty closely with Steve Russell of Landmark now, to coordinate"). Next year, says Baily, "I may really pursue grants for the first time, since we've had little luck getting private support."
We have a growing audience, though, including a lot of different groups, like all the Turkish people who showed up a few years ago for a Turkish film." Baily has a must-cope, cannot-flop attitude that chalks up disappointments as delays, not defeats. She craves certain works, like seigneurial auteur Alain Resnais' "Smoking/No Smoking," yet "the French are fed up about the American market, that their films can't get more circulation.
I was told by a woman at the French Film Office in New York that even 'Les Miserables' would not have been picked up except that it's based on a classic with a known title. It's a tragedy when a Resnais film can't get released here, even in a festival." All foreign films are subtitled, and all films but "Who Is the Monster -- You or Me?" will be shown at UCSD's Mandeville Auditorium.