Capitol Screenings Come with Filmmakers

By Molly Gilmore
The Olympian [Washington]
December 9, 2006

Filmmaker Andrew Bujalski doesn't like to summarize the themes of his movies. His films are meant to be experienced, he says - not explained.

"As the maker of something, you don't want to lose sight of the whole thing," said Bujalski of Boston, who will speak at a screening of his "Mutual Appreciation" at the Capitol Theater on Sunday. "It's a world that always wants to summarize things and boil them down to the essentials, but it's my job as director to not let things get boiled down too much.

"I certainly never come at it with the notion of 'Here's a point I'm going to make.' It's a mystery to me as well."

That's perhaps appropriate. "Mutual Appreciation," which like Bujalski's first film "Funny Ha Ha" is cast with his friends rather than actors, is about a group of friends in New York who aren't sure where they're headed in life.

"I want to make the kind of film where people are leaning forward in their seats," he said. "I want people to be invested on their own terms and seeing reflections of their own experience."

Talking with a filmmaker adds an extra dimension, though, and that's why the Olympia Film Society brings in visiting filmmakers when possible - usually about once every six weeks, said film programmer Helen Thornton.

Upcoming shows

This month, though, the society offers three screenings hosted by filmmakers or, in one case, the subject of a documentary.

This wealth of visitors is just a coincidence, Thornton said: Both Bujalski and "Hand of God" subject Paul Cultrera were going to be in the area anyway, which allows the society to sponsor their visits without flying them in from the East Coast. Andy Norris, who'll speak Dec. 17 about his "Source to Sea: The Columbia River Swim," is from Portland.

On the schedule:

n "Mutual Appreciation," which is showing through Thursday but will feature a visit by Bujalski on Sunday.

It's about a musician who wants to avoid getting a real job, his grad-student best friend and his best friend's girlfriend. Love triangle alert! But don't let that conjure up visions of Chandler, Joey and Monica.

"It's a comedy albeit a very strange one," Bujalski said, "and black and white is good for a certain kind of deadpan humor."

The film "looks like something that came out of a time capsule, but there's nothing dusty about it," Manohla Dargis wrote in The New York Times. "Its aim is modest and true."

n "Hand of God," a documentary about an altar boy abused by his priest during the 1960s, will be shown tonight, only. Cultrera, who as an adult confronted the Archdiocese of Boston about what happened to him, is the subject of the film and the brother of filmmaker Joe Cultrera. Paul Cultrera will visit the Capitol Theater to speak about the film and his experiences.

"It's a heavy subject," Thornton said. "But it has some humor."

"Bad things happen to people, but it doesn't mean that they lose their humor or they lose their smiles," said Joe Cultrera of New York. "I don't like films that try to manipulate you.

"The fact that Paul retained his sense of humor has gotten him through this whole thing."

The film, which will be shown on PBS's "Frontline" next month, is a personal story about a family, the filmmaker said.

"It's about growing up in that system of Catholicism, the overwhelming blind faith in Catholicism that we grew up with," he said. "The saints were watching us from the walls and keeping us in line."

n "Source to Sea: The Columbia River Swim," documenting environmental activist Christopher Swain's 1,243-mile swim to raise awareness of the river's damaged ecosystem, will show only Dec. 17. Norris will visit to speak about his experiences working on the film. if you go:

What: In the next week or so, the Olympia Film Society will get visits from two filmmakers and the subject of a documentary. All three will answer questions about the films.

When: "Hand of God,"

7:30 p.m. today; "Mutual Appreciation," 7:30 p.m. Sunday; "Source to Sea: The Columbia River Swim," 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17.

Where: Capitol Theater, 206 E. Fifth Ave., Olympia.

Tickets: $7 for each event, $4.50 for film society members.

More information: Call 360-754-5378, or see


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