Monday, June 11, 2012

After thoughts - Ultimate Christian Wrestling : KAFFNY 2012

(Directors - Tara Autovino & Jae-Ho Chang) - Photo credit: mr c


Attending the ULTIMATE CHRISTIAN WRESTLING screening and Q&A session last night at KAFFNY brought a nice celebratory blessing & send off for the film. It’s no secret that the collective efforts of Unseen Films and Planet Chocko have rallied in favor of UCW with reviews we posted at Unseen here and at PC here. Mondocurry also had a wonderful & revealing chat with the directors of the film: Jae-Ho Chang and Tara Autovino. Their conversation can be read here. The interview provided great insight on the film which made us appreciate the vibe and the drive of the movie even more.

I can’t speak on behalf of DB and Mondocurry but seeing Ultimate Christian Wrestling on the big screen siphoned you into the vortex of the characters even more so. Watching the online screener for press purposes is one thing, but when the lives of these rural folks who are poor financially but rich with body, faith, & mind as well as possessing a sense of humor which started to unfold in front of your eyes in the theater, you can’t help but start to cheer for them! The passion of the characters really bled through the screen. The directors did a tremendous job in gaining trust from the cast which allowed them to open up to the camera. What I loved about the film was that there seemed to be a true human element in the story. It made you want to connect with Billy’s son Kody and even Justin’s brother - Matthew. On another side note, the online screener that the press were presented with seemed to be an edited version different from the one we saw at KAFFNY. There were definitely some more silly, but touching scenes involving Kody and his chubby friend and other more personable interactions between the cast that didn’t add meat to the story but provided you with a sense of being more emotionally connected to the film. I am not going to rehash any of the Q&A specifics because Mondocurry’s private interview with Jae & Tara was pretty much spot on with what went down publicly with the Q&A at the Anthology Film Archives last night. I will add that through the tone of their voices and body language, the directors were very genuine if not a bit emotional about their subjects/characters/friends that they had spent 3 years with in filming UCW in Georgia. They had developed a trusting relationship with the main cast: Rob, Justin, & Billy as well as spend time with their families without video cameras in tow. Tara Autovino made a very inspirational and tell-tale statement about the UCW guys:


“I see a lot of myself in Matthew -- Justin’s younger brother in that sort of teenage questioning phase with being an agnostic and atheist and I sort of went through that whole path. I don’t necessarily agree with what they are doing in terms of their specific beliefs but then again we are all entitled to our own beliefs. But the UCW guys never bothered to ask us once what ours were. They didn’t ask us if we were christian or whether that we were on the boat with them. They didn’t care about that. Being with them and being around guys that have very specific beliefs while being open minded and being accepting of other types of people was very helpful for me to be able to see that so that I can incorporate that into my life.”


Some other interesting questions from the audience at the Q&A prompted these answers: the directors of the film mentioned that the members of UCW did not get a chance to see the film yet. They just finished editing the film for release at KAFFNY. They want to schedule a screening in Georgia but figured the pseudo-intellectual crowd in New York might be a good testing bed -- Joke, I think coming from NYU film graduates!

The question was posed to the directors if they were taking UCW to other film festival screenings. Tara and Jae responded that they have applied to 10 or 11 film festivals and all but one have rejected the film. The film festival directors have mentioned that they are rooting for the film but maybe the timing of the religious/sports theme films have passed their prime or have gone past the window of time? On that note, we really enjoyed Ultimate Christian Wrestling and we are rooting for the success of the film for what it’s worth. We thought the story translated very well onto the screen - thanks to the two directors! We wish Jae good luck with his next project, a short film and Tara’s next project is to take a much needed vacation!

1 comment:

  1. Great report and quotes!

    I do remember on the version i watched,Kody and his friend lifting weights and he tells his pal to maybe 'lay off the milk and cookies.' Was there more than that? I felt like watching once, it was possible to miss some of the details that stand out when watching it again.