The name changed to....
Shot entirely in Asheville, North Carolina
America's new Indy Film Mecca
...with a 100% Asheville cast
"Thomas Wolfish" 21 Century style? Aw, shucks...
Comedy? Let's see now...yeah!
Fiction? That's what they say...
Spiritual? Sure. What does that mean?
Drama? Now what is not?
Artistic? That's a good word....goood word!
Erotic? Now watch it!
Political? Incorrect? You bet!
Outrageous? Beyond that!
3 years in the making....
...and From Sundance
Anywhere, USA is the most original film I've seen at Sundance this year. It's the first and only film by Venezuelan born director and writer Chusy Haney-Jardine, a resident of the fine city of Asheville, North Carolina. The finished product is a wild, homemade labor of love involving Chusy's entire family and community. His writing partner is his wife, Jennifer MacDonald. The film stars their daughter, Perla Haney-Jardine, the only professional actor in the movie. The film was shot in their hometown of Asheville, and the filmmakers found people to act in their project mostly from various trips to the local Wal-Mart.
The movie is split into three parts: Penance, Loss, and Ignorance.
Each part is a different story involving different characters, although some characters pop up in two or even all three. Penance is a piece of gossip told over the course of an afternoon spent at the tanning bed, a tale of redneck romance gone awry over a pistachio nut.
Al-Quaeda, of course, is involved.
Loss, what Chusy describes as the heart of the movie and my favorite by far, coincidentally, is the story of an eight-year-old (played by Chusy's daughter) experiencing a crisis of faith after accidentally consuming half a pan of pot brownies. Perla Haney-Jardine's performance as Pearl is wonderful, as I hoped it would be since she is a professional little actress, after all. I was quite pleasantly surprised by the acting chops demonstrated by Jeremiah Brennan, who plays Pearl's uncle and caretaker. Their final scene together is incredibly moving and the high point of the entire film.
Ignorance takes place in the close-minded world of an upper-class family man who has a dinner time epiphany: he doesn't actually know any black people. He then takes his family on a neat little adventure into the stupidity of the well-intentioned.
Chusy claims the film is autobiographical. All the things depicted in it are highly personal, he says, and somehow represent people or events from his life. It's one hell of an absurd, patchwork quilt of an autobiography. Chusy also edited the movie in his garage back in Asheville.
I found Anywhere, USA technically very proficient--Chusy definitely knows how to make a film. Although the cast is amazing to look at, their overall lack of acting skills hurt the film for me. Like if I was on a road trip and just happened to stop in Asheville for a pee break, I too would be fascinated walking around Chusy's Wal-Mart, but it's not as if I would want to go watch a community theater production starring the barefoot clientele after I refuel. http://www.collider.com/entertainment/reviews/article.asp/aid/6741/tcid/1
narrator in Anywhere, USA,
.and host of VIRATO LIVE! .
Broadcast Saturdays, 10 AM to 1 PM EST on...
Asheville, Indy Film Mecca
ASHEVILLE - Fall 2006 doesn't just mean tourists coming to Asheville to see the colorful leaves. This weekend they'll be headed here to see the movies.
This year, 94 films from North Carolina and around the nation and as far away as South Africa and Australia will be screened during the second annual Asheville Film Festival starting Thursday. But beyond the festival's four days of film watching, filmmaking is a year-round economy slowly taking root in Asheville.
"We have filmmakers who may not be Asheville-born and raised, but they are choosing to relocate here. There are a lot of people who are working on production crews," said Rose McLarney, operations manager of the Media Arts Project, a grass-roots effort to showcase local film artists.
"We have so much talent here," said Merwin Gross, executive producer of Blue Ridge Motion Pictures. The Asheville film studio is ready to start shooting several features this winter and next spring after about three years of pre-production groundwork. "Some of the best stories in the world can be told here by great filmmakers in Western North Carolina."
Mark Hosler is another who has been creating cutting-edge collage, video and music for 25 years with the artists' collective Negativland, based in the San Francisco Bay area of California. Connected by the Internet with his collaborators, Hosler brought his talents to Asheville about two years ago.
Before moving to Asheville, Hosler was living in Olympia, Wash., which had its own homegrown film festival. Hosler hopes the Asheville Film Festival plays to its local strengths and doesn't try to become one of the many slick film festivals around the nation. . . . . scroll up column to right F.
Francine Cavanaugh and Adams Wood moved east from San Francisco less than three years ago, looking for a place to live and make their documentary films.
The couple directed and edited "Boom: The Sound of Eviction," a film about gentrification in San Francisco, which they've screened at 15 to 20 film festivals. The couple set up shop as Mountain Eye Media on Eagle Street, offering video production and editing and Web design while they work on their documentaries of social activism.
Chusy Jardine will present a promo for Asheville: The Movie, a feature he plans to shoot next spring that grew out of a series of award-winning commercials he made for Bele Chere a few years ago.
"Asheville is such a fecund place to pick and choose characters. The
human beings are outstanding here," Jardine said. "The Bele Chere
commercials, which featured all local people, won the international
awards and got a lot of attention." Good publicity
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