Among the more significant still unreleased films from the recent festival circuit are new works by Nina Davenport and Cecilia Miniucchi, two highly original up-and-coming
directors whose previous films have all screened at the HFA. Both graduates of Harvard, Davenport and Miniucchi share an interest in unusual and frequently off-beat subjects and
a deft humor that balances their sharp insight.
Nina Davenport has directed a series of inventive and sparklingly intelligent documentaries that use an intimate, first-person voice to guide her nuanced explorations of complexly multilayered subjects that include the interpersonal and cultural anxieties surrounding marriage (Always a Bridesmaid) and the national malaise that followed 9/11 (Parallel Lives). From her acclaimed thesis film at Harvard, Hello Photo (1994) – a brilliant and deeply engaging encounter with cinephilia and spectacle in India – to Operation Filmmaker (2007), Davenport has distinguished herself as a gifted and uncompromising filmmaker.
Cecilia Miniucchi worked as an assistant to Federico Fellini, the Taviani brothers and, for many years, Lina Wertmuller before taking up the camera as a documentary filmmaker. Miniucchi has directed a great number of documentaries focused on artists and the creative process – an impressive roster of subjects that includes Charles Bukowski, Paul Verhoven, performance artist Herman Nitsch and Mexican singer Selena. A student of literature at Harvard, Miniucchi is also an accomplished still photographer, poet and screenwriter.
Special thanks to the Office of the Provost.
Directed by Cecilia Miniucchi, Appearing in Person
With Samantha Morton, Jason Patric, Teri Garr
US 2007, 35mm, color, 104 min.
In her narrative debut Miniucchi explores a refreshingly authentic romance story focused upon unexpected characters that defy the glossy and eccentric caricatures that dominate so much of independent cinema today. The story of two lonely parking attendants, Expired balances humor and pathos as it captures the delicate unfolding of their relationship. Samantha Morton is superbly cast as the timid meter maid drawn to a gruff, possibly violent, parking officer played by Jason Patric. Filmed in Santa Monica, where Miniucchi lives, Expired offers a pointed, poetic commentary on class inequity and alienation. Print courtesy of Icon Entertainment International.
Directed by Nina Davenport, Appearing in Person
With Muthana Mohmed, Liev Schreiber US 2007, 35mm, color, 95 min.
English and Arabic with English subtitles
The documentary Operation Filmmaker plays like an allegory of the quagmire of the Iraq War, an endless series of compromises and blunders with no end in sight. The film follows Baghdad film student Muthana Mohmed as he arrives in Prague for an internship arranged by actor/director Liev Schreiber on the set of his film Everything Is Illuminated. Filmmaker Nina Davenport comes to film Mohmed's experiences and soon finds herself personally involved in Schreiber's charitable effort and in an all-consuming power struggle between filmmaker and subject. Print courtesy of the filmmaker.