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Apr 3, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Jonathan Caouette Evening: Tarnation & More

With Jonathan Caouette, his mother and Matt Dentler

Jonathan Caouette will be present to present his groundbreaking doc Tarnation, along with some surprise sneak-peak new work.

Caouette emerged as the emo golden boy of the 2004 Sundance with Tarnation, his iMovie magnum opus about a troubled southern childhood and schizophrenic mother. Sundance programmer Shari Frilot called it a “sensual masterpiece of self-destruction and re-birth.” It’s the kind of film — excruciatingly intimate, full of startlingly raw material — that unnerves as much as it impresses, causing critics to reach, almost defensively, for the hyperbole that would fend off its relentless psychic charge. Tarnation also had talking points out the yin yang: along with being the first feature made on iMovie, in almost every story on the film its price tag — which was reported, with several variations, as an absurdly accurate figure in the realm of $213.18 — was mentioned, along with the fact that both Gus Van Sant and John Cameron Mitchell signed on as producer and consultant, respectively, after seeing long cuts of the film. Mitchell was especially excited, predicting a huge directing career for Caouette, who in the film is also clearly an incorrigible performer.

In a Sundance report, Movie City News called Tarnation a “cinema landmark,” and Wellspring seemed to agree, signing on as co-producer (funding an upgrade to 35 mm) and distributor in April 2004. When it closeded in October of 2004, after a showing at the New York Film Festival, Tarnation could not have been more poised for documentary sleeper-dom. Caouette turned to acting for a couple of years and is now working on a music documentary tentatively titled “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” —Michelle Orange

Official Selection Sundance, Cannes, New York, Toronto, Tarnation went on to win awards including Best Documentary from the National Society of Film Critics, the Independent Spirits, the Gotham Awards, and the LA and London International Film Festivals.

More information to come!


Apr 3, 2010
8:30 pm – 10:30 pm

UnionDocs is grateful for support from:

Summer Documentary Labs

A tightly structured and supportive program for filmmakers working on their first or second documentary feature.

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