April 14, 2011 —
Every screening of “Beautiful Darling” that I’ve attended since it premiered at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival, I was fairly certain would be the last. I have been (happily) wrong each time.
“Well, I should definitely go, because it might be the last time I see it on the big screen,” I would think. And I would go, and I would usually be surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I started work on it five years ago. It was my first real editing job.
“Beautiful Darling” will be distributed by Corinth Films and will premiere on Friday, April 22 at the IFC center in New York City. After that, it is set to play a handful of art houses across the country (San Francisco, Denver, Boston) in the coming few weeks. A theatrical premiere is a dream for a low-budget independent documentary such as this. And our opening weekend box office numbers will dramatically impact how far our distributor is willing to take the film.
The documentary is a biography of Candy Darling, a transgender Andy Warhol superstar who was immortalized by Lou Reed in “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” and “Candy Says,” and later acted in a Tennessee Williams play before dying at the young age of 29.
The film tells her story by weaving together her best friend Jeremiah Newton’s present-day quest to bury her ashes with a patchwork of rare archival footage, old photos, present day interviews and movies that she starred in, all the while with Chloe Sevigny reading Candy’s own inner thoughts from her private diary.
The film really gets at the essence of Candy’s psyche, as well as diving into many of the interesting topics of gender and fame that her story brings up.
Since finishing the film creatively, I’ve been working on other things. The director James Rasin and the producers have all been working very hard to finish the film (license all of the footage, raise more money and submit it to different film festivals). They’ve worked to really get “Beautiful Darling” out there. The fact that the film’s journey continues is a testament to the effort that’s gone into it, but it’s also a testament to Candy herself.
Jeremiah Newton, the co-subject of the film, is Candy’s biggest fan. Including him in the story allowed us to bring up the ideas of time passing and memory. He often says in the film that it was never Candy’s time before, and that now it is. I always took what he said with a grain of salt. Well, to be more honest, I didn’t really buy it.
Recently, I was reading the free Metro newspaper on the subway. On the front cover was an article about transgender youth in the NYC (Candy was transgender), inside was a write-up on a current Warhol exhibit (Candy was a Warhol superstar) and Chloe Sevigny was heavily featured for the Big Love series finale (Chloe reads Candy’s diaries in the film). Was Jeremiah right? Is society now ready for her story in a way that it wasn’t before?
Boiled down, that story is basically the American Dream. Boy grows up on Long Island with a big dream of becoming a movie star and struggles to make it a reality. It just so happens that his dream is to become a female movie star. Just so happens that it this all takes place in New York City at a time when that sort of thing was far less acceptable than it is today. And it just so happens that Jimmy did transform into a beautiful woman.
One gets the idea from her diaries that it was not an easy task.
I was talking to James on the phone yesterday; he was going over the plan for the opening. In some ways, hearing about the current trials and tribulations of the film makes me feel guilty. I haven’t been working on it with him for two years.
“Making the film, there are so many times when it feels like everything has fallen apart,” he told me. “It becomes so clear that if you stop working, the film wouldn’t get finished. So you keep going and it becomes almost like an obsession. But in a lot of ways, it was like ‘this story is worth it. We can’t stop now.’”
I’m glad he didn’t.
Check out “Beautiful Darling” at the IFC center next week. It really is worth seeing up there on the big screen.