Posted at 5:23 PM on January 29, 2008
by Euan Kerr
Chris Eska is polite and relatively quiet when compared with some of the film directors who have stumbled through the MPR studio doors. He's here for a sold-out screening of his first feature "August Evening" at the Lagoon Theater in Minneapolis. The film is up for two Independent Spirit Awards this year, (for best male lead actor and for the Cassavetes Awards for the best film made for less than $500,000) and he's in town looking for votes.
The film is remarkable in it's lush presentation and when he let it drop that he actually spent less than $40,000 on the film it was hard to believe. He says he was able to get a huge amount of help from his hometown of Gonzales in Texas.
The film is completely made in Spanish, which is also remarkable, given that Eska wrote the film, and he doesn't speak the language. He says he likes to make films which use the subtleties of gesture and glance to tell a lot of the story. He's had some practice. He made his first film, a short called "Doki-Doki," in Japanese in Tokyo. He doesn't speak Japanese either.
"I actually find it freeing," he says. "I don't feel that language and dialog is really what cinema does best. I find that the subtle sort of looks in people's eyes and subtle glances are really what film does best, and I find that if I don't get hung up on every single word and the syntax then it allows me to concentrate on what I feel is important in the scene."
Eska hopes that members of Film Independent will like the film and vote. He says he also hopes the film will return to Minnesota when it is released later in the year.
Too bad I missed this last night...is it any good?
It's a beautiful and gentle story, tinged with sadness, and shot wonderfully. I wasn't at the screening, and would be interested to hear from anyone who was.....