This So-Called Disaster

  • 89'
  • USA
  • 2003
After the great American playwright and actor Sam Shepard had played the role of the ghost in Michael Almereyda's Hamlet (screened in 2001 at the Festival), Shepard invited the film maker to document rehearsals for his The Late Henry Moss, that he staged with Nick Nolte and Sean Penn in leading roles. Almereyda and his crew filmed the last three weeks before the première.In an apparently relaxed, collage-like way, Almereyda combines interviews with Shepard, his actors and staff with images of the rehearsals. The result is a strikingly intimate group portrait and a unique glimpse of top actors seeking their way through the material - sometimes under pressure, sometimes at their ease. At the same time, the film offers a survey of the career of Shepard, including a report of his stormy relationship with his father, who died in 1984, which motivated this play (the title of This So-Called Disaster is a reference by Shepard to his family story).Alongside the scenes from the oeuvre of Shepard - treachery, loss, the quest for identity and the different relationships between parents and children - the real subject of the film is the mirror-image relationship between memory and imagination. And of course it is, above all, a lively reportage of the challenges that cooperation in the theatre involves.
Michael Almereyda
World premiere
Country of production
Production Year
Festival Edition
IFFR 2003
Betacam Digi PAL
Keep Your Head Productions, Anthony G. Katagas, Callum Greene, IFC Films, Jonathan Sehring, Caroline Kaplan, Holly Becker, John Sloss
Cinetic Media
Adam Keker
Sean Penn