Writer-director-actor-producer-editor Eli Rudnick hops on and off a bench,surveying the empty seats in the cozy new cinema on Sherman Street. Our conversation ranges from the false security of conformity to wipes and mattes to Taxi Driver. "I like being a director because no one can overpower me," the sixth-grader explains. "It's my view."
Before you start ranting about 11-year-old auteurs, consider that Eli's videos have screened at the Red Vic and the Sonoma Museum of Visual Art. "He has a lot of fans, but he takes it in stride," says his dad. "He's able to make something and then present it to an audience of fairly sophisticated adult moviegoers. That sets him apart from people who do it as a hobby."
Eli is a whole lot more proprietary, however, when he's in production. "He won't let me get near him when he's making a movie," Dad says." Nothing strange about that except that Dad is Michael Rudnick, the filmmaker, sculptor, and teacher. But Michael allows, "His approach is fresh, and I don't want to do anything that might affect that freshness and vitality." Partly for that reason, the Rudnicks have a VCR and monitor but no TV, which doesn't bother Eli except during football season. "You can't base your films on TV shows," he says disdainfully. "You have to base them on yourself."
The Rudnicks present their recent work at an Oct. 28 Cinematheque show at Center for the Arts, featuring a premiere of Eli's latest. "It's about time and substance," he confides. "It's about a boy who stumbles onto the creation of life." Heady stuff for a kid, but Eli says, "A lot of people think an 11-year-old would make shaky, unedited movies with his friends in them. I can show them that isn't true."
Sweet Smell of Success
The first rule a journalist is taught (or self-taught, in my case) is never to become part of the story. But since we're such good buddies, I think you'll understand if I indulge myself just this once. KQED's new locally produced show on the independent film scene, Independent View, picked your correspondent to co-host with the vivacious Sylvia Mullally, critic, actress, and longtime host of the "En Contacto Directo -- La Nueva Dimension" program on KPFA.
Even if I had no connection with the program, I'd recommend tuning in for interviews with the likes of Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry), Patricia Rozema (Mansfield Park), James Schamus (Ride With the Devil), and Craig Baldwin (Spectres of the Spectrum). The weekly half-hour show premieres Friday, Nov. 5 at 10 p.m.
You can't beat this deal: S.F. State hosts a free Oct. 27 screening of alumnus Lisanne Skyler's poignant feature debut, Getting to Know You, with the filmmaker and her producer on hand. (415) 338-1629 for info... Single-screen loyalists are thrilled that the Regency II stumbled onto a summer blockbuster with The Sixth Sense, but isn't it about time to book one of the fall flicks?... I'm still trying, unsuccessfully, to make sense of song-and-dance master Stanley Donen directing a suspenseful drama for Saul Zaentz. Let's be generous and conclude that there's still some room for sentiment in the movie business.