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in Filmmaking
on Mar 28, 2007

Ted Hope, who produced Julian Goldberger’s The Hawk is Dying with Jeff Levy-Hinte and Mary Jane Skalski, sent the below email out to his personal list regarding the film’s opening this Friday at the Cinema Village in New York. In it, he makes a bold and honest offer that he decided to open up to readers of this blog. I’m glad he did. In addition to his no-risk offer to see a provocative film that finds a new visual language to apply towards cinematic narrative, Hope makes a great argument. I especially was struck by his equation of today’s specialty film scene with the stuffy French “cinema of quality,” the films that the French New Wave of Godard, Truffaut and Rivette rebelled against.

Hope’s email:

Here in NYC it’s New Directors/New Films time again. I love this series. And it’s an interesting coincidence that this Friday, March 30th, THE HAWK IS DYING is opening at Cinema Village. Many years back at ND/NF I saw an incredible film called TRANS. It was made for a penny with non-actors and a very strong sense of place and individual style. I figured it had an audience of me and a few others, but I approached the director and told him how impressed I was, and how if he ever wanted to do something slightly more conventional, with an actual scripted narrative, I would love to help him out. The director of TRANS is Julian Goldberger, and THE HAWK IS DYING is his film that came out of that initial conversation.

We premiered THE HAWK IS DYING at Sundance in 2006. It was the only Sundance film to go to Cannes where a revised cut (the one you will see in the theaters) screened to great response in Directors Fortnight. The film captures a tour de force performance by Paul Giamatti, raw and incredibly human. Julian’s expressionistic style is so well suited to Harry Crews’ tale (his first novel to make it to the screen) — both are reinvented in the process. Ten years ago this would be a film celebrated by the entire industry, but now that INDIE means something synonymous with the “cinema of quality” that the French New Wave rebelled against so long ago, it gets marginalized precisely because of the wonderful risks it takes — the same very risks that made me and the great team that worked on it want to collaborate with Julian in the first place.

The film truly deserves to be seen on the big screen. We are woefully close to a time when such films will only be available for download, but this, like many others, truly deserves to be seen with light passing through glorious celluloid. I know you know how crucial the early days of a film release are, so PLEASE if you don’t have plans for the end of the month, do all you can to get to Cinema Village (or wherever it is playing near you).

I do love the phrase (perhaps slightly ironically) “vote with your dollars”, but I do think a ticket here is a vote against a steady diet of NORBITs and HOG WILDs. I truly struggle every day on how we can make sure there is a business that can work that embraces challenging films, films that dare to aim towards art, that involve risk as part of their design. And of course, the key part is all of us buying tickets.

AND HERE’S MY FAITH in the film and such a dream of such a cinema: If you go this weekend and aren’t truly glad you went, I will personally refund your money. Just send me your ticket stub at This is that in New York. I promise.

Most sincerely,


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