SEARCHING FOR ORSON WELLES shown at the TIBURON Film Festival
Searching for Orson
Directed and written by Dominik Sedlar & Jakov Sedlar. Produced by Jakov Sedlar. Executive producers: Richard Weiner & Stephen Ollendorff. Co-producers: Harold Snyder, Boris Miksic, Ron Assouline, Natali Schlesinger; Photography (Digital Video): Gary Graver, Igor Sunara, Zelko Guberovic; Editor: Zdravko Borko; Supervising sound editor: Ivika Dmic. Narrated by Peter Bogdanovich. Running time: 80 minutes
James Earl Jones
Christopher Welles Feder
By LAWRENCE FRENCH
For three years running the Tiburon International Film Festival and its director, Saeed Shafa has spotlighted the work of Orson Welles with an outstanding tribute program. This is especially appropriate, given the fact that Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth spent time filming The Lady From Shanghai near Tiburon in the fall of 1946.
(Location shots of Marin and San Francisco from Lady From Shanghai can be seen here:
Although the waterfront scenes in The Lady From Shanghai were filmed at the now defunct Walhalla Café and bar in nearby Sausalito, legend has it that Errol Flynn docked his yacht, The Zaca used as Arthur Bannister's boat in the film, at the historic Corinthian Yacht Club, located north of the Golden Gate Bridge, at 43 Main Street in Tiburon. (The Corinthian Yacht Club is also where the film festival holds its opening night party, this year with director Mark Rydell in attendance with his compelling new film on gambling, Even Money.) Also interesting to note is how Welles famous story in The Lady From Shanghai (about sharks devouring each other off the coast of Fortaleza), relates to the discovery of Tiburon, since in Spanish, Tiburon means shark. In 1775, the Spanish explorer who first discovered Tiburon named it Shark Point when, like Michael O' Hara, he observed a sea that was made of sharks, and more sharks still.
This years Welless program has brought the marvelous new documentary Searching For Orson to Tiburon, and although its co-directors, the father and son team of Jakov and Dominik Sedlar could not be present, the films executive producer, Richard Weiner was on hand to speak about the documentary along with noted Welles scholar Joseph McBride.
Producer Weiner revealed that the project began when Oja Kodar approached the Sedlars and provided rare Welles material that has never been widely seen before, since much of it is of a highly personal nature. Quite wisely, instead of wasting time rehashing Welles already well known early triumphs, the film focuses on Welles work after he met Oja Kodar when he was shooting The Trial in Zagreb.
Of the unfinished Welles films, the most footage is devoted to four projects: The Other Side of The Wind, The Dreamers, Don Quixote, and The Merchant of Venice, with some new perspectives and fascinating footage on all of them. Peter Bogdanovich, for instance, basically lays out his plan for finishing The Other Side of The Wind, and last week, Bogdanovich said from the set of the concert film he is currently shooting with Tom Petty, that the deal with a cable network (Showtime) to finish Other Side of the Wind, is now 99 % certain.
In Searching For Orson, Welles oldest daughter, Christopher also appears for the first time in a documentary, commenting on the little-known fact that her half-sister Rebecca had a son who she put up for adoption. Orson Welles grandson, Marc Welles is interviewed on camera here and he tells the very sad story of never having been able to know or even meet his real mother or his famous grandfather.
Beginning the film with Ojas first meeting with Orson Welles, it ends touchingly, as we hear one of the final audio recordings Welles ever made: a message he recorded and sent to Oja in Croatia for her birthday in 1985, six weeks before the silver cord would snap... the golden bowl would break and Orson Welles would go to his eternal home and his dust return to the earth as it was In this beautiful recording, Welles movingly reads a famous passage to Oja from the book of Ecclesiastes - almost as if he had a premonition he only had a few more weeks to live.
Richard Weiner says Searching for Orson may be the first chapter in an ongoing series of documentaries and DVDs covering The Lost Treasures of Orson Welles. Concomitant to that, are plans for a film school, which Orson and Oja had always wanted to begin, and Oja says Welles originally wanted to call it the Jean Renoir school of Film.
Naturally, as with all Welles projects, finding the backers and money will be the key for such plans to actually reach fruition, but lets hope that this pilot documentary creates enough interest to begin a whole series of future DVDs that will enable the world to explore the many Lost Treasures of Orson Welles.