Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Barbet Schroeder, Toronto, Sept 1987

BARBET SCHROEDER WAS AT THE FILM FESTIVAL PROMOTING BARFLY. Charles Bukowski used to be a big deal among literary Gen-X types back then. I'm still not sure why. Schroeder and his film were a big deal for the Nerve readership, needless to say, so I made him a priority.

I recall him being friendly, even slightly bemused, or maybe I was just imagining how a Tehran-born French Swiss raised in Colombia and educated in the Lycee system who was a key figure in the Nouvelle Vague would react to a film festival in an ambitious but still very provincial city. I'm pretty sure this was shot in a room at the old Park Plaza (now Park Hyatt) with my old Mamiya C330 and whatever window light I could harness and bounce to give some approximation of high-key lighting.

Barbet Schroeder, Toronto, Sept. 1987

I don't remember much about Barfly, and while I've seen several of Schroeder's films since then, none of them are as memorable as any random five minutes of General Idi Amin Dada, his documentary masterpiece from the '70s. Schroeder has had, by anybody's yardstick, an interesting career, producing at least a dozen important films, playing cameos in everything from Beverly Hills Cop II to Mars Attacks! to Darjeeling Unlimited.

He's a consummate insider with friends apparently everywhere, and despite his role in the French New Wave, his own work is almost wholly lacking a signature style. He's made films that take a sympathetic look at killers and terrorist lawyers and drug cartel assassins, and recently directed an episode of Mad Men. He has a new film out this year.

These are simple portraits, and while they're very far from my best work, they're graphic and straightforward, which was an accomplishment for me at the time.


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