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CineVegas '05 Interview ('Me & You & Everyone We Know' Director Miranda July)

By Erik Childress
Posted 06/24/05 07:54:43

At Sundance this year, I missed a little film called Me & You & Everyone We Know. I'll admit that in choosing 30-35 films to see in a field of over 100, it's sometimes easy to pass over a film with the words "performance artist" mixed into the description. As film critics on the festival scene we see enough, perhaps too many, "experiments" posing as film. Well, shame on me for judging the metaphorical cover. Luckily I got to catch up with the film as part of this year's CineVegas Festival and its one of the quirkiest, sweetest human comedies of the year and certainly one of my favorites. Before the fest, I got to ask a few questions of the adorable writer/director/star of the film, Miranda July.

Your film premiered at Sundance and has since gone on to play at festivals in Philadelphia, Boston and now CineVegas. Tell us how the festival experience has treated you and what are you looking forward to in Vegas?

MIRANDA: Well I won't actually be in Vegas unfortunately. But it has been wonderful going to festivals and watching people watch the movie. Now I am bracing myself for non-festival audiences, as the movie opens next weekend in NY.

How have things changed for you since your film started playing on the festival circuit?

MIRANDA: Word-of mouth about the movie has grown since the first festival, and this is because of the festivals. Each festival gives the local press a reason to write about the movie, and at each festival there is also the chance of winning a prize, and the prizes are quite important for the eventual release of the movie. Festivals are very important for a movie like mine.

You graced the presence of Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival this year. Everyone knew that Roger had raved about the film at Sundance. Tell us how his festival came about though?

MIRANDA: I met roger at the Sundance award ceremony, we were sitting in the same row. He was sitting next to my 2 best friends, and all three of them yelled out when I won the originality of vision prize, so he was instantly endeared to my friends.

Did he call you personally?

MIRANDA: He contacted IFC.

Did it feel weird playing an "overlooked" film festival when your film really hadn't received a chance to be "overlooked" yet? After all, it will be opening in theaters this summer.

MIRANDA: I knew that Y Tu Mama Tambien had been "pre-overlooked" in this way, and can only assume that it helped bolster the success of this movie. I think he picked my movie because it had the chance of being overlooked, with no stars, and he didn't want to watch that happen.

Do you feel that people cringe at the title of a "performance artist" as if they believe its nothing more than just a pretentious claptrap that may or may not involve pudding? Tell us about your history as a performance artist.

MIRANDA: I usually call myself a performing artist, because my work doesn't have much relationship to what people think of as performance art. It is highly scripted, narrative, with dialogue that I perform myself and it is multi-media; video and music are a big part of it. I began by performing in punk clubs on a bill with 2 or three bands. My early performances were recorded and released by Kill Rock Stars, and my community was definitely the independent/punk music scene. Gradually the performances grew and I moved to larger venues, like the kitchen in NY. My audiences are now very diverse, a combinations of older intellectual or art types and younger people who know my work from it's original context.

What's the one glaring lesson you learned while making this film?

MIRANDA: It's ok to be afraid, it won't mess up the movie.

Two parter - name an actor you'd KILL to work with, and then name an actor in your own film that you really think is destined for great things.

MIRANDA: Gene Wilder and Carlie Westerman who plays nine-year-old Sylvie in my movie.

Name the three directors working today that you most admire.

MIRANDA: Claire Denis, Agnes Varda, Nicole Holofcener.

At what point will you be able to say, "Yes! I've made it!"

MIRANDA: I felt like I'd made it when I made my first short when I was 20, and I had! I think you just keep on making it.

A film is made by many people, including the director (of course), but you'll often see movies that open with a credit that says "a film by." - Did you use that credit in your film? If so, defend yourself! If not, what do you think of those who do?

MIRANDA: No, I didn't do that. I didn't want any names before the movie, and there is only one: A Gina Kwon Production. I don't mind giving props to Gina, my producer, because she worked so hard and is awesome. I particularly didn't want actor names at the start of the movie, because I felt like they would mean so much more at the end, given that they are new faces. Not good to give it to them before they really want it.

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Me & You & Everyone We Know (written & directed by Miranda July) - starring John Hawkes, Miranda July, Miles Thompson, Brandon Ratcliff, Carlie Westerman and Natasha Slayton screened at the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival and opens around the country starting June 17.

Watch the Me & You & Everyone We Know TRAILER

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