On February 3rd and 4th of 2014 CINSSU presented, along with The Seventh Art, a retrospective of the work of Andrzej Bujalski--the "Godfather of Mumblecore". On the 3rd, Bujalski's films Funny Ha Ha (2002) and Mutual Appreciation (2005) were screened followed by a Q & A session with the director and the audience. The event was a success thanks to the hard work of CINSSU sneak preview coordinator Zubin Ali and the great people at The Seventh Art.
Below are some photos from the screening, the Q & A and the after party (use arrow keys to scroll through the photo gallery).
Zubin Ali also wrote reviews of the two films, featured below:
For a generation of graduates with general arts degrees, job hopping, left in the most monotonous, frustrating scenarios imaginable, Funny Ha Ha (2002), Andrew Bujalski's first film, finds a way to voice this struggle without utilizing a cliché plot. Bujalski was a 22 year-old Harvard student in Cinema Studies when this film was made; shooting on 16mm film and editing on a steam bed. The end result, Funny Ha Ha, is absolutely beautiful and should be viewed when the opportunity arises.
Funny Ha Ha is a work of fiction, but feels almost auto-biographical, as it stars Bujalski's roommate at the time Kate Dollenmayer, with narrative goals of capturing how she felt at that present moment, interpreted by individuals who knew her very closely. Nothing in Funny Ha Ha is over-dramatized: the film simply looks at the act of living with an inadvertently dark sense of humour. All actors in the film are essentially expressing that of their own personalities, so the feeling of immersion one experiences while watching is immaculate and very organic. Because of the self-awareness and self-loathing toward difficulties in the characters, their lives become even funnier. Bujalski simply wanted to document what it was like to be directionless, single, and 22 on his own terms, and in doing so was documented in many film publications as the resentful "Godfather of Mumblecore."
Language can often fail us in communicating how we feel, and film as a medium is capable of expressing this failure. Day-to-day dialogue may often be stumbled through, interrupted, or withhold self-expression as much as possible. We can however notice subtle expression or hidden incentives of people just by observing them handle these problems. This is where the "Mumblecore" mode of film-making flourishes. We often choose not to tell people how we actually feel or fail miserably in doing so. Often, we ourselves don't know why we feel the way we do. We can, however, learn a great deal about people by witnessing them pass up or stumble through opportunities: perhaps they were scared of failure, neglecting the truth, or don't want to draw attention toward them. Neglecting or procrastinating problems in life was essentially the reason for everyone's role in creation of Funny Ha Ha, so it's definitely something Bujalski cherishes in a truthful representation of his subjects. A resolution isn't necessary to express oneself, nor is it necessary in documenting a portion of one's life. Learning what people are like can often be the point of interpreting someone's art.
There's no audio in the film unless characters themselves are listening to such; instead, audio is occupied with surrounding voices and ambience mostly captured by room microphones. Essentially, you'll feel like you're listening to the same audio as the protagonist for nearly the entire length of the film, which really assists in the audience's relationship with her. Editing functions with corresponding audio cues flawlessly; knowing that this film was cut on a steam bed by a 22 year old is highly impressive.
All in all, the experience of immersing yourself into the life of Marnie in Funny Ha Ha is a breath of fresh air, and inadvertently comedic. It's been a while since I've found a protagonist this relatable, and I now completely agree with Bujalski being critically praised for this film. Funny Ha Ha is an overlooked gem in our generation of film. We're incredibly happy we could fly Andrew to Toronto to celebrate his existence.