Ten years ago, at the 2004 Urban Nomad Film Festival, “Clay Soldiers” swept the awards (if I recall correctly. All I know is that I got a vase of some kind). That was the year we set about making “The Kiss of Lady X”, and the film, appropriately enough, premiered at this year’s Urban Nomad, which has grown much in terms of scale and scope in the last decade, this last Saturday.
I had just gotten off the plane after a couple of weeks in China due to being part of a photography exhibition there. I’d cut the visit short, despite most of the discussions and other activities being held on the weekend, because there was simply no way that I could miss our long-awaited premiere. Dean told me that due to greater-than-expected ticket sales, we’d been bumped up from the smaller 70-seat theater to the largest, 200-seat theater where the opening and closing films were being shown. Although that sounded good, I was a bit worried that the larger theater would make the audience seem smaller.
I needn’t have worried. Not long after I arrived at the Lux Theater in Ximending, a long line of people waiting to enter snaked across the adjacent square. I got a free UB t-shirt after talking with Dave Frasier and Sean Scanlon, the organizers of the festival, who have been waiting patiently all these long years for the completion of the film. It was a shame that Rowan and Dolly couldn’t make it, not to mention Josh and April. I stayed outside the theater waiting for Sandy, who was on his way and a bit lost, just to make sure he found it alright and got his free ticket. Then it was into the big, post theater, and the film began.
What can I say? It looked great. It sounded great. The audience was great, with a hugely positive response. I could feel them getting into the story, the characters, everything; they even broke into applause at several points in the film, which was enormously gratifying. So many times during production I had said, “Don’t worry, it will look good on the big screen,” and it was great to finally see if it was true. As the credits rolled and the the applause swelled, I couldn’t help but think to myself: damn, all the frustration, the waiting, the extreme measures we took to get this thing made, and made as well as we could…it was all worth it. It really was just fucking worth it.
I got up to do the Q&A, hosted by Tobie Openshaw and a Taiwanese woman who was doing the Chinese-language part, and called Dean up there as well. We talked a bit about the film and answered some questions. I called the members of the cast and crew who were able to make it up to introduce themselves, and I felt so glad that at least some of the people who had worked so hard to help us finish the project were able to partake in the joy of showing it to the world, or at least our little corner of it.
We ran out of time, as the next movie was coming up, so we made our way over to the Red House Theater area for drinks and more talking. I felt a great weight lifted from my shoulders. “This is it,” Dean told me. “It’s done, it’s finished.”
As I got up to leave, much later that night, one of the people who had seen the film asked Dean to autograph his ticket stub. He gave the pen to me, and I signed it as well. The man looked at me and asked, “Did you play a part in the film?”
“I’d like to think I did,” I said. When I told him I was the director, he brightened up and gushed at how much he loved the movie, that he was a film buff and that he thought it better than most of the things in the theaters today. Now, I know there are many problems with the film, that in technical terms it’s a bit dated, but it was just great to hear that people liked it. So many people had spent so much time giving freely of their time and talents to make this thing happen; it was wonderful to be able to give at least some of that back.
Our second and final showing of the film will be this Wednesday, at 1 p.m., also at the Lux Theater in Ximending. I plan to take the afternoon off work and attend, though I don’t think there will be any activities like the q&a; it will just be a plain showing, but I hope that everyone who wasn’t able to make the Saturday showing can at least see the movie on Wednesday.