Upon learning that the Douglas Coupland-penned movie Everything's Gone Green would be screening at this year's film fest, I knew that I had to see it.
Alas, this was not to be. The early Saturday afternoon screening in the lecture hall of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art unfortunately overlapped with a couple of others on my must-see list. The film is still worth discussing, though, as it helps illuminate a couple of the challenges of programming the Wisconsin Film Festival.
"I saw this at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2006 as part of its Canadian cinema program," explains Meg Hamel, the director of this city's fest. We discussed this movie at the beginning of the week when I called her to speak about coverage of the festival planned for The Daily Page.
We specifically discussed Toots, The Rape of Europa, and Everything's Gone Green, three festival offerings that media were requested to refrain from giving full reviews. Every year, there are a handful of such films, this condition requested by their distributors because they are hoping to bring the title back to the Madison market and want to make sure it will get reviewed when in commercial release. All three of the above films share one such distributor.
Brief capsule reviews are acceptable, though, and were worth providing for Toots and The Rape of Europa as each was screening twice over the course of the weekend. As a courtesy to the festival, I spoke with Hamel about this, who gave a green light for each. That's when she started telling me about Everything's Gone Green.
This movie, one of the first to sell out during its advance ticket run, is a high-profile Canadian release written by tech-age and -industry author Douglas Coupland. "It's a very Vancouver-y film," Hamel explained, "the city is very much a part of the story." She went on to discuss the challenge of programming some films for the festival.
"We're always looking to find interesting stories that represent interesting contemporary English-language cinema," Hamel said. "The festival programming is always packed with many international films and documentaries, but the challenge of finding films that hold together well as a story and are made in an English-speaking country can be difficult."
This owes largely to the growth of the independent film market, and the uncertainties of programming the festival several months in advance, as most deals with distributors are made in January. "Part of why it's difficult is anticipating what the release schedule might be," Hamel said. "What we're trying to do is to find films that aren't going to be in theaters or on DVD before the festival, and sometimes it's difficult to predict how that's all going to shake out."
This was the case with Everything's Gone Green and its distributors. "When I was able to get the film in our festival," Hamel said, "they said they were working on distribution but didn't have it figured out yet. As it happened, this film did get picked up for distribution."
Due to this, Everything's Gone Green is returning to Madison soon, opening at Westgate later in April. "Although it might be weird for the festival to be bringing a film that was going to be in a commercial movie setting two weeks later," Hamel said, "that's not what we knew in January." So if you missed the Saturday screening of this slice of economic ennui from Canada, it's not a big deal. The film will be back in town in no time.