New York producer Madeleine Molyneaux celebrates her 15th IFFR with a film in Tiger Shorts competition (Kevin Jerome Everson and Claudrena N. Harold’s Black Bus Stop), Richard Squires’ Doozy in Bright Future and the CineMart project Hank by David Jacobson, that tells the story of Charles Bukowski’s first love affair before he became a renowned poet.
"The three projects I have here all speak to the different directions where I like to take my producorial practice," she underlines.
Molyneaux explains how she attended her first Rotterdam, back in 2005, as a reaction to the frustration she felt working on the US independent film Down in the Valley, notably directed by CineMart partner Jacobson. "We had just completed this $10m film, with all the trappings and pratfalls of an independent feature. I had heard about Rotterdam and I thought I need to get back not only to my art roots but also back to a non-American practice of how you put films together, how you go back to meeting auteurs and how you think first conceptually about a project and not practically or financially. That was the producer I was aspiring to be."
The IFFR 2019 experience, she believes, represents a full circle both for her and director Jacobson as the Cinemart project not only re-unites them but references both his uncompromising black and white first feature Criminal (Berlinale Forum, 1994), and his later Dahmer (2002), "where they used the then-unknown actor (Jeremy Renner) to play an infamous person (Jeffrey Dahmer), and we are thinking similarly with Hank to find an actor who is equally not well known. Famous people don't have to play famous people."
"The interesting thing about the project is that it coalesces a lot of the concerns of films I have worked on. It is going to be years in the life of an artist but a lot of it is going to be archival footage – [we have] this idea that we are going to skew the traditional biopic and talk about a writer in words and in poetry, and use images to represent periods in time and emotional states of being."
Doozy concerns American actor and comedian Paul Lynde, the flamboyant voice behind numerous Hanna-Barbera cartoon villains from the 1960s and 70s. Molyneaux describes it as a hybrid creative documentary, “the kind of film that makes perfect sense to be embraced by audiences at Rotterdam. It uses original animation, live action and historical clips to illustrate the point where the character ends and the actor begins, by examining hysterical male laughter and stereotyping in casting.”
Molyneaux first met Black Bus Stop co-director Kevin Jerome Emerson at her first Rotterdam in 2005. "I saw [the feature] Spicebush and knew immediately I had to work with him… This is his first film in competition [at IFFR]. It is a collaboration, made with his University of Virginia colleague Claudrena, and the sort of film that works best at Rotterdam, because this festival is excellent at showcasing the way that [film] teams work. You see a lot of collaborative filmmaking in the shorts competition."
Molyneaux underlines her 2019 decision to attend Rotterdam over Sundance, whose change of dates scuppered the plans of US filmmakers looking to attend both. “The change of dates for Sundance means that fewer US producers, programmers and other industry try to attend IFFR. And that’s a mistake. As well, most US producers don't think in terms of how to make an international co-production work, mostly because it can’t usually work in the traditional sense. I’m continually working to crack that code given that the films I’m interested in making are closer in form and sensibility to films made in other parts of the world. They are definitely not “American indies”, whatever that term means anymore.”