Thursday, June 23, 2005

IFC Center, Part V: Pennebaker Weighs In

The Reeler had heard from a projectionists union source that an IFC Center opening-day screening of D.A. Pennebaker's classic Dylan documentary Dont Look Back featured four false starts and a disgruntled Pennebaker associate complaining to the union.

That's news to Pennebaker.

On the DVD tip: Pennebaker

"No, I don't know anything about it," Pennebaker just told me. "The theater was great. I remember the old Waverly falling apart like some octagenarian temple in Cambodia, and it was kind of wonderful to see what (IFC) had done to it. Picking it up."

Pennebaker was in attendance to introduce a Friday night screening and to catch a look at Me and You and Everyone We Know. Former collaborator Richard Leacock was visiting from France and joined him in addressing the packed house.

The director acknowledges talking to protestors on hand. "One of them was very young. I don't he'd been projecting very long," Pennebaker said. "Nobody wants to pay for a projectionist any more if they can help it. But it was once a very organized coalition of people who had careers and did know something about doing it. But that's long since passed. Now I think the number of people who know how to run those big arc machines is fewer and fewer. They haven't got much to hold onto anymore.

"We were so happy when the DVD came in because that was a new era and we wouldn't have to have projection anymore. So I wasn't exactly on their side when they asked me for attention. But I did talk to a couple of them."

Pennebaker also described the sea change he has witnessed since premiering a 16mm print of Dont Look Back at a seedy porno theater in San Francisco 40 years ago.

"My feeling about projectionists, you know, there were two or three who were wonderful. There was one guy up at 105th Street and Broadway who was terrific. We ran all our films through that theater because they were so good, and we checked them very carefully. But we'd take a $2,500 print of Dont Look Back and we'd send it out someplace and it would have pictures cut out of it and it would be wrecked. And the guy on the projector had just not watched it."


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