Tideland debuts in Toronto

written for Dreams by Mitch Cullin (the author of the novel, Tideland)


Unfortunately the Dreams Picture Research Team was unable to source any images of Mr Cullin in Toronto. Only these photos from Tideland’s Toronto party could be found to best illustrate this piece (from the film festival website).
Actors Jennifer Tilly, Jeff Bridges and Jodelle Ferland with director Terry Gilliam
Actor Jeff Bridges
Actress Jodelle Ferland with Terry Gilliam

Well, darn, I’m writing this in a hazy mentally-lagged state, having returned from the insanity of the festival. Man, I love Toronto, but the trip was a blur–non-stop days, too much food & beer, and maybe a total of 12 hours sleep in the course of a week. I got back to L.A. and immediately took a 14-hour nap.

The evening Tideland screening at the Elgin was something else, highlighed by the sight of Peter & I arriving right before everyone else to walk the red-carpet while the confused, unsure papparazzi couldn’t figure out who the hell we were as we stepped from the limo–cameras poised, each one waiting for another one to start snapping, and then said cameras slowly lowering as we moved on into the Elgin theater. Pretty damn funny, actually. I just regret not arriving with a camera and then, as we walked the red-carpet, pausing to take pictures of the bewildered journalists with their slumping cameras.

Anyway, it was a pretty weird trip in every sense. There were a few walk outs during the Elgin screening, and at one point near the film’s most dramatic moment the lights of the theater came full on for two minutes, washing out the screen–causing an annoyed stir among the audience. Very weird, it actually seemed like a deliberate act of sabotage, and when the screening was over several of us, including Terry, tried to find out who was responsible but no one could tell us. Odd. Even so, the audience gave the film a grand round of applause, even though the unease and discomfort in the air was tangible. My favorite take came from Brent Bottin, one of the crew for the Tideland documentary, who sat beside an eldery couple–throughout the film the eldery woman laughed and seemed to be enjoying the ride, whereas her husband lowered his head at one point and muttered, “Enough, enough–“

Needless to say, I suppose I was hoping everyone would just love it as a fine piece of subversive filmmaking–although I realize now that Terry’s whole goal was to make as divisive a film as possible, and during lunch that day before the screening he said as much. By the way, about that lunch, a young man named Keith joined us for the meal at our patio table, and he seemed like a pleasing fellow, figured he was related to someone there, sat across from me and we chatted about books and the documentary Dark Days. Very nice guy. Only later, once he had excused himself, was it pointed out to me that his name was Heath and not Keith. And his last name was Ledger. You know, I really need to get out more. After lunch, Terry, Nicola, Tony Grisoni, Jeremy Thomas, and I introduced an afternoon screening for the crew at the University of Toronto. As the main showing was a few hours away, we didn’t stick around to watch it, although Tony & I did a brief waltz on stage to prove that both the novelist and the screenwriter were in accord, apparently a rarity.

As for the film itself, I’m very, very proud of it. I actually think it’s a beautiful and original creation, and wasn’t intended to entertain but rather challenge.

Now let’s see if it can snag U.S. distribution. Ten years ago it wouldn’t have had a problem. These days in Bush-America, however, makes it seem less likely to happen here. For all the Republican banter about the left-wing agenda of Hollywood, the film industry is pretty conservative and corporate. Anyway, should be interesting to see how it all plays out. Yikes! Still, I do think it’s okay to hate it, but I don’t think it’s okay to dismiss it as being meaningless or uninvolving–or as nothing more than an exercise in weirdness–because that’s simply not the case.

Oh, and yep, I made the final cut. Just for a moment on the bus you can catch a glimpse of me and Peter.
And the mailbox at the farmhouse has “M. Cullin” written on it. Or, as Terry has said, “If I’m going down with this ship, you are too, Mitch.”

So that’s that. As much as I’d like to attend, I’m skipping San Sebastian, actually. Going to Japan instead, my first real vacation in three years. We’ll be staying on an island with monkeys, and no TV, internet, or telephones. Sounds like heaven to me.

All right, I gotta go to the store and buy socks. I’m outta socks. I need socks.

More to explore

Films in depth

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
The Zero Theorem
The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus
The Brothers Grimm
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
12 Monkeys
The Fisher King
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Time Bandits