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Cinema of Bread and Roses: An Interview with Maggie Renzi and John Sayles 


Near the end of Matewan (1987), socialist union organizer Joe Kenehan (Chris Cooper), a guiding light and galvanizing force for a West Virginia town of striking coal miners under siege, attempts to console frustrated young Danny Radnor (Will Oldham), a nascent preacher and union man. Overwhelmed by the violence and hardships they’ve suffered, the boy gives into despair, declaring in rage and desperation that it’s every man for himself. Joe’s stirring reply is that they must all look after each other, no matter what. Though followed by a long-brewing scene of climatic violence, this quiet but deeply moving moment between two characters is perhaps the film’s apogee and revealing of the ethos that lies behind the work of two of its authors, writer-director John Sayles and producer Maggie Renzi. For over 40 years, they have been making films where ordinary people, motivated by the fundamental desire to make meaningful decisions about their lives and communities, tell stories of their histories and futures while clashing with top-down obstacles.

Sayles got his start in the late ‘70s as a screenwriter on various Roger Corman productions, writing Joe Dante’s breakout film Piranha (1978) and other genre works, such as Battle Beyond The Stars (1980) and Alligator (1980).Unlike many of the great talents who emerged from Corman’s school of “scrimp, save and hard knocks,” those who either stayed in the exploitation circuit or arrived in Hollywood, Sayles and Renzi carved out their own path. Made and released at a time when there was no reliable network of financing and distributing American independent cinema, their first film, Return of the Secaucus Seven (1980), was shot in less than two weeks on a tiny budget, cobbled together from a couple of Sayles’s writing paydays. Seven crew members were amplified by Renzi and Sayles, who took on many roles, including acting.  As the pair continued to make films through the ’80s and ’90s, the road would rise to meet them—an independent film movement with the couple as two of its major influences and practitioners. 

Many of their films amount to a distinctively American take on social realism, drawing on, while deviating from, British and Italian influences. Lone Star (1996) is about the disturbing revelation of an unsolved crime—just one example of Sayles and Renzi’s films digging into past events that, as Renzi said in our conversation, don’t just haunt but stalk the present. According to Hollywood, organized labor exists only in the context of the Great Depression, where it can be more easily construed that the state swooped in with the New Deal and saved the day, or as a front for corruption and mafiosos. Matewan, on the other hand, is an extraordinary dramatization of a significant episode in the “Coal Wars” depicting one of the most radical and disillusioning periods of the American labor movement. This interest in facing up to difficult, underrepresented moments in American history extends as far in their filmography as Amigo (2010), a powerfully desolate, dis-ensemble piece set during the American conquest of the Philippines.

Keen to add to their body of work exploring American history and also to return to the western genre, they’re currently in the process of casting and raising money for a new film, I Pass This Way, an adaptation of Eugene Manlove Rhodes’s novella Paso Por Aqui. It will star Chris Cooper as a more reflective incarnation of Pat Garrett, on the trail of a cowboy turned bank robber. This arduous manhunt will take them across the New Mexican desert, testing both men’s physical limits and moral compasses.

In October, Maggie Renzi and John Sayles were in Belfast to publicize Sayles’s new novel and historical epic, Big Jamie McGillivray (2023), and for the Belfast Film Festival, where there was a retrospective of their work and they were awarded the Réalta award for Outstanding Contribution to Film. I took this opportunity to meet with them and discuss their career; the influence of theater on Matewan; filming suppressed histories; westerns; their new project; and the realities of being an independent filmmaker, then and now.

Filmmaker: I was reading about how you two met when you were students, specifically through theater. It seemed like theater was a good training ground to be an independent filmmaker because you have the chance to work in a collective art form but with less financial pressure. Could tell me a bit about those early productions you were both involved with?

Sayles: We ended up, not really knowing each other, going to the same college. A couple weeks before I graduated, because I’m a year older than Maggie, we were in the same play, a production of The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan. Maggie had a long scene while my character was passed out with his head on the table. So, I never saw her act but I heard her every night.

Renzi: He never peeked.

Sayles: She sounded good. 

Renzi: We had a curtain call together. I said, “You’re really good in the play” and never spoke to him again for another year.

Sayles: We really met through friends when I was out of college. But yeah, theater is really collaborative. The first theater I worked in, a summer stock theater, you also did box office once a week. You might help build the set. So, there is that collaborative part, especially on that level where it’s students doing it with students.

Renzi: Nobody is any more important than anybody else, so I think it prepared us for a kind of filmmaking that was more egalitarian, less star focused, certainly more all hands on deck. Eventually, as we got to be more sophisticated filmmakers, we understood there were many reasons why people have specific tasks assigned to their jobs, so we didn’t cross over lines quite so much later.

Sayles: Well, our first movie only had a seven-person crew, so people had to do double duty, not always with good results. But also to this day, I prefer to have actors do the whole scene, even if I know it’s going to be cut into pieces. I like them to do the arc of the scene together and cover it in such a way that they feel like they’re really doing the scene instead of doing three lines, then stopping, three lines, then stopping. 

Renzi: We’ve been trying to cast a new movie, a western, and normally we would get résumés and take a look at people’s theater experience. Well, in the last ten years or so since we’ve made a movie, it’s amazing how little theater experience the actors have who are on the list. Are you a theater guy?

Filmmaker: A little bit. I go to some stuff here [in Belfast], like at the Lyric Theatre, and I know a bit about Irish theater history, especially the Abbey Theatre. I see some of that in The Secret of Roan Inish, with some of the actors you chose there. But in terms of American Off-Broadway or student theater, it’s not something I really know.

Renzi: Our years living in New York, we both did summer stock theater, and so did many of the actors we’ve worked with. Chris Cooper, David Strathairn, Mary McDonnell came out of the theater, because there was no… I mean, Hollywood was making films, and we were living in New York, and Hollywood wasn’t in New York. Then the independent movement started, and so many of the actors that we worked with came from theater. For example, The Brother From Another Planet, Black actors—there were practically no Black movies being made.

Sayles: And East Coast actors, if they were lucky, did soap operas, and you might get an arc. Joe Morton, for instance, was on a soap opera.

Renzi: So. all the Black actors that are in The Brother From Another Planet came from the theater. And we got used to that—that collaborative spirit, the humility you have when you’re part of a company. As well as a kind of discipline—obviously knowing your lines, knowing the whole play, because you don’t get to go home when you’re not on stage. You don’t get to go to a trailer. Chances are you’re just in the wings hearing the rest of it if you’re not actually on stage. We miss that. I think that’s vital training that’s not part of many young actors’ experience. 

Sayles: But also there’s a lot of people who you’ve never heard of who have 25 movie credits, and you realize that they were a Disney kid or were on TV since they were 11 years old, so there’s a certain kind of comfort in being in front of a lens. They’ve probably not played anything but contemporary teenagers, but they’ve done a lot of that. But also they have no life experience other than being an actor. In general I think that’s true of actors now. You think about the actors of the Jimmy Stewart generation. They went off to war, came back and were different people, but kept acting. Very few younger actors that we run into now have done anything but act.

Renzi: Well, I don’t know the history of the two actors that we saw last night. Did you see All of Us Strangers yesterday [at the opening night gala of the Belfast Film Festival]?

Filmmaker: I haven’t seen it yet, but, yeah, Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott…

Renzi: …are both fantastic. And I don’t know what their training is, so maybe they haven’t done any theater at all. We have a problem in the US, which is that we have no state-funded theater. In fact, the jerks in the House of Representatives today are proposing we abolish the National Endowment of Arts. It’s only a budget of 183 million dollars. 

Filmmaker: It’s tiny.

Renzi: Yeah. Movies cost that much, right? Whatever the training of these two guys, it was sufficient. Do they do theater? Do you know?

Filmmaker: Andrew Scott definitely has a theater background. I think in Ireland, the theater tradition is strong and there is state funding for it. Not a lot, but still. [Both actors have extensive theater backgrounds. Most recently, Paul Mescal performed in A Streetcar Named Desire on the London stage, and Andrew Scott has been performing in Simon Stephens’s Vanya. — Editor]

Renzi: And there is regional theater. I know it’s getting harder in the UK, which also had a fantastic system.

Filmmaker: Yeah, you notice [the change] with each passing decade. Between the ’30s and ’80s, so many actors we know were from working class backgrounds. They might have the RP accent [Received Pronunciation, a “prestige” form of British English that was mandatory training in British drama schools and a broadcasting standard long held by the BBC] ,but that’s where they’re from, and that’s so rare now.

Renzi: Isn’t it a shame.

Sayles: I read a good article by an English writer about “Where are the Tom Courtenays of today?” because the kids can’t afford to go to school. If [the funding] is not there, it’s like, “Well, I might be interested, but how can I even afford to go?”

Renzi: And you certainly wouldn’t be getting a scholarship or a bursary any longer to do that, and you never did in the US. But lots of people aspire to be in the theater. It’s like writing the great American novel, which I think also is not any longer a goal. It’s writing a screenplay, probably.

Sayles: When I started making movies. there were maybe three film schools in the United States that anybody had heard of doing production things, not just appreciation of movies. And there wasn’t the internet so that you [could] teach yourself that way. And there wasn’t even video yet, so you couldn’t go to the Quentin Tarantino school of working in a video store and just popping things in left and right.  There weren’t that many student movies, so even actors who lived in a college town didn’t necessarily get in front of a camera.

Renzi: No, if you had any urge in that direction, you went on the stage.

Filmmaker: I was looking through the retrospective that’s showing here. The earliest film is Matewan, and I read the book that John wrote [Thinking In Pictures: The Making Of The Movie Matewan, published 1987] about the film’s ten-year journey from Union Dues [Sayles’ 2nd novel, published 1977], where a strand of the film appears in an early form, to its release. It struck me as a great achievement, making a film on its scale about maybe the most radical moment in the American labor movement, where one of your main characters is a self-described socialist, during the Reagan years.

Renzi: [Laughs] Yeah.

Sayles: It was one of the points of it, quite honestly.

Renzi: You go where you’re needed!

Sayles: One of the first things that Ronald Reagan did when he got in was to bust the air traffic controllers union, which was striking mostly for working conditions, because they said, “We’re fried. Our hours are too long. There’s not enough of us. It’s dangerous for people in the sky. If we don’t get a raise, we should get fewer hours on and hire more people.” And I think he came in with the mandate of, “Well, the first thing you’ve got to do is bust a union and show them who’s boss,” because most of those guys got fired or just left. They lost their strike. Then, within a year almost everything they were asking for had been given to the new people, because it was necessary. But it [the union busting] was symbolic. A lot of politics is symbolic.

Filmmaker: It was an ideological move.

Renzi: It wasn’t automatic to get the money for [Matewan], but not because of the politics of it really. It was a good time to be making movies, because this American independent thing had really grown up as a way to feed home video, which was a brand new phenomenon. Not too long ago, somebody that we knew sent us an old copy of American Film magazine, which was a big magazine in that moment. They sent it because John was on the cover of it, but just as interesting was what was on the back of it—mom and dad, she with her hair in curlers and a housecoat, dad practically with a pipe and slippers, watching the movie they wanted at home.

Sayles: Not going to the movies, staying in our living room.

Renzi: Right, not waiting until the show came on at 7 o’clock but having this experience— which, of course, you take utterly for granted [today] — watching a movie of your choice at home. That meant that suddenly there was this giant mouth to feed, so it was so much easier to get a yes for any movie, but especially for these low-budget independent movies. By that time, you [referring to Sayles] had already made three or or four movies. So, you had a bit of a reputation. We talk about it now, if we get to make this Western, it will be because we’ve cast names that are on a list. Now, people offered us that way of working when we were making movies years ago, but we always said no. I’m thinking about the people who came in to read for [Matewan]: “Aidan Quinn is not right for this, Sean Penn is not right for this. Chris Cooper is right for this.” “Who’s Chris Cooper?” It didn’t really matter. Mary McDonnell wasn’t really anybody. The only somebody was James Earl Jones.

Sayles: And we got him after we got the money, at the last minute.

Renzi: What I’m trying to say is that it was a surprising movie for that era, [and] it’s a surprising movie for now, you know? When the Writer’s Guild were early in the strike, we were invited to show Matewan as a fundraiser. Well, there aren’t that many labor movies around the world, and even fewer in America.

Sayles: I did a podcast called The Movies That Made Me with Josh Olson, who’s a screenwriter, and Joe Dante. It was hard to find movies [about unions], and half of them were about corrupt unions, but over a 30-year period I found, what, 15 movies.

Renzi: That’s all.

Sayles: Ten of them I wanted to talk about.

Filmmaker: I was reading about Big Jamie McGillivray, your new novel—about its grand historical scope and seeing events like Culloden show up. It made me think about both your work in general and its relationship to underdiscussed periods of history. There’s Matewan but also Amigo. I can maybe count on one hand films about America’s invasion and colonization of the Philippines.

Sayles: There are three [American fiction films including Amigo] and in the other two, there’s not a Filipino in them. There’s one called The Real Glory (1939) which is basically a remake of Gunga Din but set in the Philippines. And the guy who plays the evil Datu [Vladimir Sokoloff] was from the Moscow Art Theatre. He [speaks] pretty good Tagalog, and he looks Filipino with all the stuff on him, but ours is the only one with [Filipino actors]. And the Filipinos are just starting to deal with that part of their history.

Renzi: When we took it on tour we went back to show the film, mostly in universities and towns and cities close to US army bases, and I can say the audience was shocked. “What do you mean? I thought America was our friend?” It was on that level of ignorance and innocence. It was amazing. I think that must have been slowly changing. 

Sayles: Well, we don’t write their history books anymore, so they’re getting to discover some of their own history.

Renzi: If they choose to. You know what they say about the Philippines: 500 years of the Catholic Church and 70 years of Hollywood. That’s no way to grow an educated, questioning population.

Filmmaker: I’m also trying to think about films about that wider period in American history, the Spanish-American War. There’s one line in Citizen Kane, that’s probably the highest profile [depiction].

Renzi: That would be right.

Sayles: John Milius made a two- or three-episode TV thing about the Spanish-American War [Rough Riders (1997)].

Filmmaker: I would be curious about his perspective.

Sayles: Well, he’s a big Teddy Roosevelt fan, so Teddy Roosevelt is the hero of it.

Renzi: And he likes a war.

Sayles: Well it’s “the splendid little war,” but it [Rough Riders] was interesting.

Filmmaker: Where did this impulse come from, to make films specifically about these events or periods where as far as the wider popular culture is concerned, didn’t happen?

Sayles: I got to go to college and took the 101 introductory literature course. It was the only literature course I ever took, and I didn’t take any history courses. So, I kind of wandered into American history. I was taught the official story, and every time I learned something new it was like, “Oh, so what they told us wasn’t true, or it was really slanted.” So, I got very interested about that thing of, what are the stories that people tell themselves that give them an identity, and why do they choose to believe those rather than what really happened? Sometimes it’s because they were lied to and they don’t know [that]. Sometimes, like with our movie Amigo, it’s because if you actually knew how things had gone down, could you still live the life that you lived? Can you go back and live in that nice house that you know has been stolen from somebody?

I’m also fascinated by history seen by people who don’t have the wide view. They’re trying to survive according to where they’re coming from and then the conflict comes from putting them together with people who have a totally different world view. So Amigo is, I think, a rare movie in that, yes, it’s a war movie in a way, but one where the audience gets to be on both sides, like knowing the passengers on two trains that are about to smash into each other. Whereas most war movies are really from one point of view. I mean, Clint Eastwood did an interesting thing. He made two movies, and one was from the American side and one was from the Japanese side. The Iwo Jima movies.

Movies do good guys and bad guys, traditionally, very well, and that’s what people want to see. They want to know who to root for, and in a lot of our movies, there are people on both sides that you like and hope things work out for them, and that’s not likely to happen in a conflict. Certainly they’re not likely to end up like Romeo & Juliet.

Renzi: It’s also such a lot of work to make a movie — a big commitment of time to finish it and then promote it. From almost the beginning, I realized it’s worth making movies that are really about something, so that when we end up in Belfast talking to somebody 40 years younger than we are, there’s something that we are talking about besides, “How did you get her hair done that way?” That’s not interesting. These movies are basically our lives, our years on the planet. It’s so much more fun to have it be where you end up talking about issues that matter and your experience. What if this history will be buried and come back to haunt you? We live in a country where, as it turns out, burying racism doesn’t actually work. It doesn’t just haunt us, it stalks us. Black Lives Matter, for a lot of people, was a wake-up call. It’s going to be harder to stick that thing back in the box.

Sayles: Although people are trying pretty hard.

Renzi: They’re trying really hard, but I actually think that along with the Dobbs decision, which is [the US Supreme Court’s] decision to deny women the right to choose to have an abortion, Black Lives Matter is going to mean so many more people coming out to vote. There are so many more people running for office, for example, since Black Lives Matter and since the Dobbs decision.

Sayles: In Florida, where they have basically banned teaching real history, a lot of the Black churches have said, “We’re going to teach our own courses.” They just feel “our kids need to know this history. It’s their history.” In public schools, it’s been banned, and the teachers don’t necessarily like that, but they will go to jail if they teach real history.

History is a battlefield. Lone Star partly came out of that. They shot the movie Piranha (1978), which I wrote, in Texas, because there was a drought in California and there weren’t rivers with enough water in them to float a raft. It was part of the plot that they had to be on a raft. So, we were close to where LBJ’s ranch was. I had a day off, took a bus down to San Antonio and went to the Alamo. I had grown up on these Disney shows about the Alamo, and the day that I toured the Alamo, there was also a protest outside by Chicano-Americans saying, “Why don’t we tell the full story?” The full story: there were Mexican people inside the Alamo, who just didn’t like [the President of Mexico, Antonio López] Santa Anna, and the freedom the Texans were fighting for was the freedom to own slaves.

Renzi: Whole different story!

Sayles: And I just felt like, “Oh jeez, they’re certainly not teaching that in Texas,” and if I was ever going to make an Alamo movie again, I would want to include that. In fact, I wrote an Alamo script for Ron Howard when he was going to direct the new version and very little of that stuff ended up in the final movie that John Lee Hancock did [The Alamo (2004)]. And even that, when people saw it, they said, “It’s too long and too multi-ethnic.” [laughs] They should have seen my version!

Filmmaker: Maybe you’re not at a stage where you can or want to talk about it in detail, but the new film you’re working on…

Renzi: The Western? Sure. Especially if anybody has got some money to give us.

Filmmaker: Hopefully!

Renzi: Because it’s been impossible to find money for our movies, and you probably have as valid theories as we do about that. We were the “It Kids,” pretty much, in the late ’70s, early ’80s—

Sayles: That’s a long time ago [laughs].

Renzi: It was a fantastic run, and we were around when that business was expanding, so it was just an incredible opportunity.

Sayles: More screens, more distributors, foreign sales.

Renzi: And this new thing that was monetized, home video, unlike the streaming situation that we are in now. So, this is a movie that’s based on a novella that was actually published in the Saturday Evening Post, which was a very important magazine that lots of people got. It was published in 1920 and ’21, in two episodes. It’s called I Pass This Way in English. Its [original title is] Paso por aqui, but we have decided not to have yet another movie in Spanish named in Spanish, in case this gives us an advantage.

Filmmaker: Though I do love Men With Guns.

Renzi: Well, thank you. I love it too. This one, there’s a place called Independence Rock, New Mexico, a great pillar of rock on which people have been inscribing their names—you know, “Kilroy was here”—since the conquistadors. Well, before; there’s hieroglyphics on it. This is about a young cowboy who, on a whim, robs a little bank and immediately is pursued by two posses. He throws the money in the air to slow them down, the greedy posse chases after the paper money, but he’s still got to make his way away. One of the posses that’s following him is led by Pat Garrett, who shot Billy the Kid 17 years before and is now a sheriff again. He’ll be played by Chris Cooper. He’s riding with a young deputy who is super excited to be riding with a celebrity. But Pat Garrett is really not interested in talking about killing Billy the Kid, and he’s lost patience with this young guy.

Sayles: So, he actually starts to admire this guy that they’re trailing because he’s really good at getting away but also understands the code of a New Mexico territory that was then very dry. What the posses usually did is not follow the trail but go to the water holes and wait. They’d figure, “Well, he’ll die of thirst, or he’ll show up here and we’ll get him then.” So the guy has to cross the desert, he’s on his last legs, and there’s this little rancho: Who would put a rancho here? It’s so dry. They must be in pretty dire straits if that’s the only land they can get.” He’s about to steal their skinny, skinny horse, and he looks in and something seems wrong. There’s a whole Mexican family, and they’ve all got diphtheria. And he knows enough about the disease to realize, “If I leave them, they’re all going to die. But if I keep their throats open so they can breathe overnight, there’s a chance they might live.” He gets them through the night, and then he’s so exhausted, he falls asleep and all of a sudden, Pat Garrett and his deputy show up. Garrett looks in, sees these sick people and says to the deputy, who has been wounded in a separate fight, “Go into the nearest town and bring back a doctor. You don’t want to go in there. I’ll take care of things here.” Then he has a day or two to decide, “What am I gonna do with him?” So, it’s a nice story in that way, and written by someone who was a cowboy, then became a writer and some of his stuff got made into movies.

Renzi: Eugene Manlove Rhodes.

Sayles: Who knew Pat Garrett, knew some of the players that he writes about.

Filmmaker: I’ve seen a few films about the legend of Pat Garrett, and they all tend to veer towards the “law in name only, ruthless killer underneath” archetype, so that sounds like it will have a very different approach and tone.

Sayles: Yeah.

Renzi: It will be a nice legacy role for Chris Cooper, who also plays deep thinking very well. John brought me the book. [John was] reading a bunch of Westerns at the time. Trump had been in office for about five months and already you could see how bad it was. And [John] said, ‘I think we should make a movie about what it means to be a good man.’

Sayles: And values, which some Westerns really were about. It’s interesting in that the spaghetti Westerns probably in some ways were more accurate, but they are very cynical. You get to the point where [in] The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, “the good” isn’t that good [laughs]. He’s just a bounty hunter, kind of a scam artist himself. I always liked the spaghetti Westerns because yeah, they couldn’t have shaved every day. It was sweaty, it was dirty, they looked like they had been on the range for a long time, whereas the American ones, they always looked too clean.

Renzi: We tried to make the Western actually. We got money which, honestly, I’m not sure was ever firmly going to be there.

Sayles: A promise of money.

Renzi: We went down to New Mexico to make it, then Trump shut down the government. Our locations were outdoors; that means they were federal land, which was immediately shut down. The Bureau of Land Management, the reservations, everything was closing. So now, if and when we get the money, we’ll shoot in Durango, Mexico, which was where many of the John Wayne Westerns and other Westerns were made.

Filmmaker: I hope you get the money. I would love to see that. And your point there about the spaghetti Westerns being more realistic but missing maybe those questions about what it means to be a good man, it’s what I like about John Ford. 

Sayles: Yeah.

Filmmaker: At his best, it seems like the overriding questions are, how do you live? How do you live with other people? If you have a decent heart, it should be something you ask yourself fairly often.

Renzi: Yeah, a nice old-fashioned question. There’s a nice moment in the script where Pat Garrett and the deputy are stopped at Independence Rock, and the kid’s got his knife out to start scratching his name and Pat Garrett says…

Sayles: “What’s your legacy?” [laughs]

Renzi: “What have you got to show for that name, that you think you need to put your name up there?” Which, of course, is a question that expands, as we are all stars of our own universes.

Sayles: I have another project that I wrote that I’d like to make. I wrote it very specifically to be even cheaper than this one. It’s set in a Chicago bar on the night of the 1968 Democratic convention when there was a police riot, and gradually the craziness on the street invades this bar where people aren’t especially politicized. It’s just another TV show to them. But they really understand Chicago politics. If they ever vote, that’s why they vote — [because] something’s happening in their neighborhood. 

You know, the hardest thing to get made now in the United States is a stand-alone feature that’s not part of the Marvel universe or another Fast & Furious sequel or something like that. There’s been some pretty good [stand-alone] ones that just didn’t make enough money for the studios. So the question is, are there enough people going back to movie theaters to do it? And then if you say, “This is an off-Hollywood, independent movie,” even fewer of those theaters survived COVID. So just the number of screens, if you do the math. It’s a very shaky ecosystem.

Filmmaker: Yeah, here there’s a noticeable difference between before COVID and after. I mean we have one independent film theater in Belfast and it’s still going, but there used to be more film clubs—some publicly funded, some run just off people’s backs, and many of them are gone. I hope there will be a recovery eventually, maybe slowly.

Renzi: There may be. Mark Cousins was just telling us that he’s been doing some research. In Britain, there are 2,200 active film clubs. People need to have that model proposed to them again. I can imagine a lot of those film clubs were run by older people who had done their time and then COVID happened. And now it’s time for somebody else to raise a little money, get some better seats. The cool thing is, of course, you can program for exactly your audience. These people will go to anything about climate change, anything with French food in it, whatever it is. 

We’ve lost our local art cinema near where we live in Connecticut. After COVID, It was sold to a company that does only mainstream Hollywood movies, so we don’t have to drive as far to see a mainstream Hollywood movie but… I think some of why I was so happy last night after that movie [All of Us Strangers] is that I don’t like most of the movies that we go to. They’re not really worth my time. I go kind of out of obligation: Oh well, it’s around and I should see it. It’s what people are talking about. But then a movie like last night reminds me that when we make a good movie it lasts. It keeps on doing that thing to people in an audience years after we’ve made it.

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