Indies in the Park
Cinema East's The Color Wheel brings siblings into black and white
When older sister J.R. (co-writer Carlen Altman) calls on younger brother Colin (filmmaker Alex Ross Perry) to help her move out of her ex-boyfriend-slash-professor's (Austin filmmaker Bob Byington) house, Colin reluctantly agrees despite their emotional distance. What follows is a compact car, the open New England road, and a brother-sister bickering that cuts deep in uncomfortable and humorous ways. In their post-college lives, J.R. and Colin have diametrically opposed views on everything from their careers to adulthood in general.
Where she is a free spirit, he is full of neurotic anxiety; while she picked a life of risk as a rootless, aspiring TV weather girl, he's accepted comforting stability living at home. It's the unknown versus the all-too-familiar, but even as the two fight and pick, something ultimately keeps them together, if not their shared history, then their mutual inability to pursue their career desires. Cinematographer Sean Price Williams's grainy black and white 16mm gives the film the aesthetic of an arty, philosophical drama, but TCW's heart lies more with Larry David than French New Wave. Billed as "a comedic symphony of disappointment and forgiveness," TCW explores the ways once-close relationships drift yet remain intertwined--at times literally so.
Perry's second feature, TCW debuted this year at the Sarasota Film Festival and shared the best narrative award at the Chicago Underground Film Festival. Cinema East producer Maggie Lea says Perry's film interested her because Perry (who's barely 27) "is an example that you can be right out of film school and go out and make a film with really original ideas." Though this week's New York Times has called the uptick in film school applications into question, it seems Perry himself is inclined to agree more with Lea.
The Color Wheel doesn't currently have a distributor, so Cinema East's screening may be one of the only opportunities for Austinites to see it without a film fest badge, at least for now. Both Perry and Altman will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A. Check out The Color Wheel at 9pm this Sunday, July 10th at the The French Legation, where this week's short will be Kerri Lendo and John Merriman's Sleep Study.