I attended a special screening of The Bondage at the Sedona International Film Festival. The film was shown for the first time since last March when it had its World Premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. But not only had nobody seen it in almost a year, this was also the first time anyone had seen the new version of the film, which is 15 minutes shorter than the one shown a year ago.

Nobody connected with the film could be present, however. We were told that writer-director Eric Allen Bell had to cancel because his new project was moved up and he had to go to work on it. Illeana Douglas had to cancel for the same reason. But I guess that, in a way, is good news. It's especially exciting that the talented Bell has something in the works which is now underway. So as there was no Q&A, I won't be posting any pictures or videos. I've also written and posted my review after the previous screenings in a SXSW blog. But I still can report on the event itself. There was a lot of curiosity surrounding The Bondage. The blurb in the guide makes it a bit hard to pigeonhole the film. I heard a lot of chatter about it wherever I went, so there was definitely interest. As the film rolled, I was paying close attention to the audience. They were very moved. They laughed and they cried, as they had at SXSW, but even more so. As we walked out into the lobby afterward, I overheard conversations saying "I have to tell my friends to see this film. Best one here."

It's a difficult film to "sell" to the public. On the face of it, a drama about a kid's experiences in juvy doesn't sound too compelling (unless you've been there). But it's much more than that, and those willing to give it a chance are not disappointed. Of course, as lead actor Michael Angarano's star is on the rise it should help the film. He has 3 others playing the festival circuit. I just saw the World Premiere of Snow Angels at Sundance and Man in the Chair at Santa Barbara. Both have received critical acclaim and a lot of press. Another film of his playing festivals is Black Irish. All are still looking for distributors.

My #1 interest in going was to compare the new film to the "old" one. I wanted to see what was cut. I obviously can't go into too much detail since it wouldn't make much sense unless you've seen it. But none of the "major" scenes which I remembered were missing. I had a list of what I'd hoped to see and all those scenes stayed. There were 4 scenes in particular that I noticed had been cut but they were not essential and I didn't really miss them. One had been confusing to people anyway and I'm a bit happy they cut it. The other 3 were funny but not that important. I know a lot more was cut but I couldn't tell, so I guess that's a good thing.

Overall, I am very very happy. Knowing that 15 minutes had been cut was not pleasing and I had been concerned. Also, the edits were done without the participation of editor Tony Ciccone. So it could have been upsetting. But I was very relieved.

I had forgotten how good it is, and how amazing Angarano's performance is. Since I'd seen it, I've seen all 3 other new films of his. All together I've seen those 3 films about 8 times. So that's a lot of his acting since Bondage at SXSW. So now, after having seen his performances in Black Irish, Snow Angels, and Man in the Chair many times, I am reminded that The Bondage is still the only film he has ever done where he is really "the star" of the film. The others may feature him as the lead actor, but they are basically ensemble pieces or involve a couple of actors at least. And although there are some other excellent actors in this film, Angarano carries The Bondage alone more than any other film.

I can't wait for people to see it.


Author

Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at Larry411.com

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  • Author: Larry Richman
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