Saturday, March 18, 2006

Death Threat Surrounding SUSAN HERO!!

Don't have much time to post, but I had an intense discussion the other day with a representative from one of the local missionary groups here (many of these in Cambodia), and the guy had somehow heard about SUSAN HERO, Camerado's newly completed feature -- see for trailer, etc

Anyway, as you may or may not know, SUSAN HERO deals with human cloning on a very non-sci fi, down to earth "what if" level. This cloning element does not sit nicely with most religious groups as you can imagine.

So this guy stops by to chat, after "learning" about my movie from some source he refused to identify. And we sat and talked for a while, and gradually it became apparent why he'd stopped by: his group disagreed with the message of SUSAN HERO and they would prefer that I do not move forward with the release of the movie!

Well I firmly but politely told him that there would be no way I could not release the movie now. Besides, I told him, the movie is a valid comment on our time, and it holds some social issue significance as well.

He sort of gave me a weird look, a very intense, quivering sort of expression on his face. He stood there for a long time, giving me this weird look, not moving. I shrugged and showed him the door...

A couple days later, I'm riding near my office at night and I hear what sounds like a large firecracker, but far more percussive -- definitely a gunshot. Almost simultaneously, I feel a jolt which sort of lifts me a little from the motorcycle.

Not knowing what was up, I headed back to my office and switched on the lights outside to take a look--

A bullet had passed right through the seat of the moto.

I suspect very strongly that it was the missionary, opr at least one of his coolies. I would say that I knew it was his handiwork, except that I didn't actually see him.

So now, what to do: hold back on the release of the movie, or throw caution to the wind and let it loose? I think the latter, but at what price?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Back from shooting in the Jungle (part 1)

Back from the first one week shoot in the Southern Cardamom Mtns, [for Wildaid] very remote shooting conditions -- generator and batteries strapped to motos, riding through the very narrow winding paths between villages (Thma Bang to ChhunNopub, Chun Noub to Chi Phat) walking sometimes because the inclines are too steep and narrow for our motos. My driver almost bought the farm as he was waling his moto over a rotting improvised log bridge over a crevasse, I grabbed his arms and steadied him from the abyss...

Wildlife, larger mammals at least, was not easy to see, but did catch some great bird activity on the mangrove channels near Bokum.

Only damage to myself: one tick on my ankle which I found wafter our kidney killing moto ride from ChunNoub to Kurtz-ian river town of Chi Phat, where I pulled the runt out with my medical tweezers, first time they've come in handy actually.

More later and more leisurely described in HURRICANE, but spent some time out with local rangers who showed us the incredible range of snares poachers use to catch picgs, deer, Pandolins, even Tiger. Rows of confiscated chainsaws, old captured sontraband Siamese croc skins on the wall. Herons on the trees lining the mangrove channels.

Also: timesless meeting with beautiful young woman in Tata, she was one of a group of basket weavers we stumbled upon as we made our way up the river bank, talking to locals. As she left, with her small daughter, rowing her boat across the river, she smiled at me--my heart melted and floated away.

I have the urge to return to the jungle as soon as I cut this doc to start a new race of moviemakers, with her or others like her, and there I shall stay for good. More than an urge actually, as I return to scrappy Phnom Penh...I will go back there as soon as I can, to roam the riverbanks and hills.

Still pushing SUSAN HERO which is being assiduously tweaked in NYC by co-editor "G". Next submission: Cannes, via priority, in a matter of days.