JAMES FRANCO & GUS VAN SANT ON “MEMORIES OF IDAHO”
One of the free programs at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival that caught our eye was James Franco and Gus Van Sant‘s installation, Memories of Idaho, which acts as a meditation on Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho and its lead actor River Phoenix. Here’s a discussion Franco and Van Sant had this past weekend with Noah Cowan at the Bell Lightbox about Memories of Idaho.
In 1991, Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho and its central performance by River Phoenix had an enormous cultural impact, not least on a budding young actor named James Franco (127 Hours, James Dean). Now Franco has collaborated with Van Sant to create Memories of Idaho, a meditation on the seminal film in multiple parts. At the work’s core are two new films, projected sequentially, in a darkened, generic space. The first film, My Own Private River, is a feature-length chronological reassemblage of excised scenes and alternate takes from the original shoot, radically foregrounding Phoenix. The second film, Idaho, comes from one of three scripts Van Sant used to create the original film, its Super-8 texture meant to be a “ghost” of his original conception. Van Sant contributes ghosts of his own, large-format photographs of actual Portland street hustlers who appeared in, and provided inspiration and source material for, the film. Presented at TIFF Bell Lightbox Atrium, 350 King Street West. September 8 to 18. (*One of the film elements of “Memories of Idaho,” My Own Private River, was previously shown at Gagosian Gallery Los Angeles, February 26 to April 9, 2011.)