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It was exhilarating for me to jump from the Charles to the Tent Village to moderate a panel called "First Encounters: Filmmakers Discuss Influential Films in Their Careers." The "careers" part soon went off the table. All the participants were artists and craftspeople who got into movies for the love of it.

Sam Weisman, an actor and director who has made big-screen comedy hits such as "George of the Jungle" and directed smart TV comedy such as "Monk," spoke of being transformed by seeing Alexander Mackendrick's "The Sweet Smell of Success" (with its juicy Clifford Odets dialogue) on a double-bill with Elia Kazan's "A Face in the Crowd."

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Ramona Diaz, whose 2003 documentary about Imelda Marcos, "Imelda," has suddenly become topical all over again, spoke with special fondness of "Day for Night," Truffaut's movie about moviemaking. Al Ruban, who's been an actor, cinematographer, and all-around production maven, reminisced about being part of the John Cassavetes cast and crew that made up "Shadows" as they went along.

It was thrilling to hear Ruban talk about "Shadows," one of the most sophisticated movies ever made about racial identity, right next to Tanya Hamilton, whose "Night Catches Us" had just brought a daring view of the Black Panther legacy to a packed house at MICA's Brown Center. Hamilton's influences ranged from experimental filmmakers such as Maya Deren to Nic Roeg, the cinematographer-turned-director of "Walkabout" (her top choice) and "Performance," among others.

Aaron Katz, director of "Cold Weather," waxed eloquent about the Marx Brothers, Buster Keaton, watching the trailers for movies like "Congo" on old VHS tapes, and the explosion of talent in Thai moviemaking. Such unpredictable eclecticism is, in my book, the hallmark of a real movie-lover.

A couple of names came up repeatedly: director Sidney Lumet and actor Paul Newman. (The panel's wave of love for them started when Weisman applauded their collaboration on "The Verdict.") When I mentioned the Bill Murray vehicle "Stripes" as an addictive farce, there was a gratifying murmur of approval.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), Weisman left before he could browbeat me into agreeing with him that "The Hangover" is a masterpiece.

Perhaps the best reaction came from Hamilton, who said sessions like this make you want to run your own movie theater.

Let me know more of your favorites -- either on this post or when you check out the photo gallery of my "unabashed movie ecstasies."

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