Monday, April 25, 2011

SFIFF: Lesbian Producer Vachon Checks
iPhone During Film Talk

We were alerted by veteran independent film producer Christin Vachon, an out lesbian who played a vital role in the development of the new queer cinema movement, that she was suffering jet lag before she began her State of Cinema lecture on Sunday night at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Vachon also mentioned her body clock was operating on east coast time, meaning it was midnight for her, and she said the glass she carried to the lectern was full of white wine. A frank talk was promised by Vachon, as she gathered her notes and announced her speech would be less than 30-minutes because she wanted to leave plenty of time for comments from the audience.

Two themes stood out. The first was about the various platforms people watch movies these days - in theaters, through video-on-demand and regular cable or Netflix, via web sites such as Hulu and over their hand-held devices. Secondarily, Vachon entertained us with stories about being open to developing projects that don't require being shown in a theater.

Her longtime collaborator, out gay director Todd Haynes, came up with the idea of making James M. Cain's book "Mildred Pierce" as a series for HBO that was to be faithful to the source, and not a remake of the movie starring Joan Crawford. If anyone had told her even five-years ago that she would be producing a series for cable, directed by Haynes and starring Kate Winslet in her first role after winning an Oscar for "The Reader", she would have laughed at the idea. 

There were several awkward moments during Vachon's talk when she abruptly ended her reply to a question, including at the conclusion of the chat, with an uncomfortable silence hanging over the auditorium. She certainly could have benefited from having a programmer from the SFIFF conduct the Q & A section of the evening.

One thing she did 2-3 times while questions were posed was to take out her iPhone, glance at the screen, scroll for a moment, listen to the person speaking then put the device back in her pants' pocket. Some might consider this rude, but I give Vachon credit for hearing the questions while she checked her iPhone and answering clearly have paid attention to the question.

I bring up the iPhone-checking because before the start of some of the films, SFIFF leaders have implored the audience to not open any electronic devices during the screening and to step outside into the lobby to check email and text messages. Those lights from the devices are quite distracting to the cineaste eye. A bit ironic then that we had the person delivering the State of Cinema address doing exactly that!

And speaking of using an electronic device in an auditorium during the festival, I used my camera to snap these pix of Vachon. The third and final pic, though grainy and dark, shows her listening to someone in the audience, her iPhone in her hand and the glass of wine on the lectern's shelf.

Christine Vachon: the consummate indie producer _and_ adroit multitasker, which serves her well creating films we want to watch.


vcdiva said...

It is terribly rude and unprofessional! Especially during Q&A from the audience!

Brock said...

As much as I want to think this is rude, I...well, I do it, too. Bad habit, I know. But I'd like to think I've perfected the art of texting AND listening at the same time.