First, a wonderful short film played to open our evening: "Worth" by Kathi Carey, an elegant 7-minute gem about a janitor (Sid Page) who finds himself compelled to play a violin up for auction. Sharply polished with just a touch of melancholy, it was enthusiastically received by the crowd.
Then award-winning writer Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, "The Wire") introduced our movie. He apologized for the appearance of nepotism (his brother Gerry appears in our movie, and was in attendance tonight); he cracked wise about the Afflecks and Baldwins before shifting gears to say... and Nicholas is still blushing about this... "I think this movie is exactly what Cassavetes intended when he was creating what we call independent film. Unadorned. Un-romanticized. Completely naturalistic. You feel like you just happen to be in the room with two real people living their lives." Maybe that speech just set a tone, but the audience was incredibly responsive -- gasps, pained sighs, and even an outburst of cheering at one point. It was a pleasure to sit near actress PaSean Wilson and her family, who could finally appreciate on the big screen what a crackerjack, scene-stealing job she does as Lucy.
The talkback was highlighted by the attendance of and comments from a group of young people with Asperger's Syndrome from F.A.C.T. The unofficial conversation after the talkback was even more interesting as people's more personal questions started to come out. Then at the after-party we had even more conversation with Dennis and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Josh Olson (A History of Violence) as they swapped on-set stories, dissected Mamet, and observed what the rest of us already knew: Nicholas does a pretty darn good Pacino. (... marking the second time he blushed tonight.)
Monday marked the departure of Adam and Katie back to Philly, leaving Nicholas by his lonesome to take in one of the festival's best features: The Unidentified. Written and directed by Kevan Tucker and starring Jay Sullivan and Erin Ecklund, the drama charts the struggle between cynicism and idealism amongst a group of NYC twentysomethings. Nicholas admitted to the film's reps at Method Fest (Tucker, Ecklund and producers Stephen Gifford and Tim O'Neill (who also edited) that he was a bit nervous to see their movie, as we've been festival buddies the whole week. But he couldn't stop talking about it. We look forward to seeing more out of this group in the future.
Nicholas was hoping to change his travel plans to stay till the festival's conclusion on Thursday-- hey, with attendance figures like ours, we could be nominated for something!-- but apparently JetBlue's cross-country flights got exponentially more expensive this week.... and Katie insists that the dogs won't be able to wait until Friday to see him. So off he will go later tonight, and join his producing partners back East to cross fingers for the ballot results.
One exception to the "try" rule: we did have one friend legitimately try to make it, only to be foiled by an automotive breakdown. She and her husband spent the screening waylaid on the side of the highway waiting for Triple A. But then, to be fair, she neversaid "Try"-- she told us "I will be there", and "try" turned out to be an unfortunate circumstantial epilogue. So remember: as Yoda says, Do or do not.