Friday, July 27, 2007

Ray Carney's Reaction to the Honey Screening

To be really appreciated is to be really appreciated by the really appreciated.

A note from Ray Carney:

2 AM

July 5, 2007

I just had my world rocked by a work of art. It has happened to me once in a while in the past -- with Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice, Cassavetes' Faces, Balanchine's Jewels and Swan Lake, Linda Ronstadt's La Boheme, E. Power Bigg's organ concerts --but it doesn't happen often.Years can pass between artistic experiences this intense. The work of art was a film by David Ball, called Honey, and it screened in the "new indie films" series I put together for the Harvard Film Archive. (Click here to read more about Ball's film and the entire series.) Needless to say, since I programmed it, I had seen the movie before. But that was a scratchy videotape copy on a tiny television screen at home in my living room. This time was a digital copy, projected on a gigantic screen, in a movie theater, with an audience -- the way movies are meant to be seen. The effect was devastating, emotionally speaking. The film destroyed me. I could hardly catch my breath during the screening, things were happening so rapidly, so dangerously, so thrillingly, so scarily. At the end, as the credits rolled, I sagged back in my seat, feeling beat-up, drained, worn-out, worked-over -- and deeply moved and affected by what I had just lived through. It was the way you feel after you have survived a life-changing experience. Wiped out and exhilarated in the same breath. The way the greatest art always affects a viewer or listener. It takes away everything we thought we knew and propels us on an experience we could never have even imagined before we lived through it. It takes us on a wild roller-coaster ride of confused feelings and disorganized thoughts that may require hours or even days to be processed and assimilated. Honey is that good. David Ball has created one of the great contemporary works of art.

I would call Honey the best film of the year or the best film of the past five years -- except for the fact that Ball's movie was completed seven or eight years ago and still has not found a distributor. Last night's screening was, in effect, its world premiere. How can that be? Is it really the case that the greater the work (the more original, the more unclassifiable, the more emotionally and intellectually daring), the harder it is to persuade anyone to release it? Well, that's the way it seems to be, at least in this case.

A side note: the audience for the Harvard Film Archive screening consisted of fewer than fifteen people. The rest were out watching the Fourth of July Fireworks in the Boston Harbor. They had no idea that the real fireworks were taking place on the screen at the Carpenter Center. By the time it was over, Honey had left scorch marks on the ceiling. And in our souls. Thank you, David Ball.

Thanks to all the actors and crew members who made the film possible. And thanks to my wonderful wife, who not only was the sine qua non of the film, but who inspires me all the time.

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