The next big film festival of the year has started in the Big Apple ladies and gents, and I’m proud to be covering it for The Awards Circuit alongside our fearless leader Clayton. The high-profile titles begin screening next week, but there’s already things being shown at P & I (Press and Industry) screenings with the On the Arts and Cinema Reflected sidebars. Thursday had On The Arts sidebar films “The Savoy King: Chick Webb & The Music That Changed America,” “Ingrid Caven: Voice And Music,” as well as “Becoming Traviata.” Friday focused on the Cinema Reflected sidebar with “The War Of The Volcanoes,” “The Rolling Stones: Charlie Is My Darling,” and “Casting By,” a documentary about the unheralded work of the casting director on films. It was followed by a press conference by director Tom Donahue.
Casting By (***)
An inside baseball type documentary about the underappreciated world of casting directors, focusing in specifically on one particular woman in general, the legendary Marion Dougherty. She revolutionized and brought respect to the job, working out of New York instead of Los Angeles and focusing on young and hungry stage performers instead of contract players. People like Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight owe their careers to her and filmmakers like Woody Allen owe her a debt for both helping him and also mentoring his longtime casting director Juliet Taylor. Director Tom Donahue also shows how her work influenced casting directors on the west coast like Lynn Stalmaster, who’s loved by the likes of Jeff Bridges and others. Donahue moves into a more current issue by showing how this job has again changed, this time for the worse due to how commercialized Hollywood has become, and by shining a light on the unsuccessful attempts to have casting directors recognized come Oscar time (he has Taylor Hackford provide the counterpoint that casting directors aren’t “directors”). It furthers a point made earlier in the film about the struggles that casting directors had in getting on-screen credit for their work, due to the umbrage taken by the Directors Guild of America over calling them “directors”. The DGA definitely comes off as the bad guys here, but not in a cartoonish way, so that’s good.
The documentary isn’t as good as ‘Side By Side’, but it’s a similar type of film in that cinema junkies will get more out of it than casual moviegoers. ‘Casting By’ feels a little long and gets repetitive midway through the second act, but it’s still a very solid documentary and shines a light on a subject few know much about. Look for a more full review from me when the film hits theaters at some point this year or next.
Stay tuned for daily updates from NYFF starting next week.
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Tags: casting, Casting By, casting director, Casting directors, Charlie Is My Darling, Chick Webb & The Music, Cinema Reflected, Directors Guild of America, documentary, Entertainment, Entertainment/Culture, Ingrid Caven, joey's articles, Lynn Stalmaster, Marion Dougherty, New York City, New York Film Festival, New York Film Festival diaries, Oscar, Side by Side, Tom Donahue, Voice And Music