Dir: Jeff B. Harmon
98 min., 35mm, 1:1.85, Color, engl. OV, WP
Produktion: BFA Productions Ltd., Los Angeles. Buch: Jeff B. Harmon. Kamera: Clark Mathis. Musik, Texte: Jeff B. Harmon. Musikalische Leitung: Anthony England. Choreographie: Gail Conrad. Kostüme: Fayette Hauser. Make-up und Frisuren: Tony Cupstid. Bauten: Martin Roy Mervel. Ausstattung: Richard McGuire. Ton: Pat Toma. Schnitt: Duncan Burns. Produzenten: Jeff B. Harmon, Daniel L. Stoecker.
Darsteller: Kirsten Holly Smith (April Pfferpot), Danica Sheridan (Blatz Balinski), Jeff B. Harmon (Papa Pfferpot/Dr. Sigmoid Colon), Sonya Hensley (Emphysema Jones), Janet Krajeski (Mama Pfferpot), Alex Boling (Lance), Michael Dotson (Dick Dickson), Sabrina Lu (Doris), Dionysius Burbano (Viv), Calvin Grant (The Bomb).
Uraufführung: 17.2.1997, Internationales Forum des Jungen Films.
Weltvertrieb: BFA Productions Ltd., 8205 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 1362, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA. Tel.: (1-818) 997 6519, Fax: (1-818) 997 6519.
Mon 17.02. 24:00 Delphi Tue 18.02. 22:00 Kino 7 im Zoo Palast Thu 20.02. 15:00 Arsenal
Bumfuck, Arkansas, a one horse God fearin' town and the ISLE OF LESBOS, a different dimension in time and space where lesbians rule the universe.
The two worlds collide on April Pfferpot's wedding day. April, a Bible Belt beauty, is about to say,"I do," to the local football hero, Dick Dickson. Instead, our heroine suffers a case of 'wedding day jitters' and attempts to blow her brains out. As April pulls the trigger, she is sucked through her bedroom mirror. She materializes in the middle of a pagan ceremony on the Isle of Lesbos - a lesbian rendition of 'The Wizard of Oz'. April is terrified, especially when she is confronted by Blatz Balinski, the Isle's beer guzzling tyrant. Though Blatz has the grace and beauty of Fred Flintstone, she eventually conquers April's heart.
Back in Bumfuck, Ma and Pa Pfferpot go berserk when they find out their little April is a 'muff muncher'. They desperately try to bring their daughter back... so desperate they consult Dr. Sigmoid Colon, a sinister Viennese veterinarian who specializes in homosexual cures. Unfortunately, Dr. Colon takes more of an 'interest' in Dick Dickson. Gentle persuasion fails and things get ugly in Bumfuck.
A jilted and humiliated Dick Dickson machine-guns his way through Lesbos on a search and destroy mission. But Bumfuck's 'Rambo' is overpowered by 'Same Sex Love'. An enraged Pa, with the aid of President Clinton, launches a nuclear missile from a US Government silo on his farm. Much to Pa's chagrin, it is a gay bomb that after a show stopping number, reverses course and wipes out the entire eastern seaboard of the United States.
Fifteen original songs and a cast of madcap characters will have audiences of all persuasions tapping their feet. A story chock full of 1990's American family values ...just don't bring the kids!
In Bumfuck, Arkansas:
April Pfferpot, the ingenue, sweet, unassuming. All American bride-to-be. But underneath the wedding gown is a chain & leather lezzie who can't be kept down on the farm.
Dick Dickson, ultra square high school football hero who is April's fiancé. Even the Rotary Club is too hip for Bumfuck's leading straight. A real dick until the Isle of Lesbos changes his tune.
Ma Pfferpot, April's puritanical farmstead mother. Red, white and blue to her cotton pickin' fingertips, Ma makes Betsy Ross look like a Commie.
Pa Pfferpot, April's father. A cantankerous peckerwood with all the qualities you'd expect from a bigoted, redneck denizen of Bumfuck, Arkansas. Truth be told, Pa lusts after Ma. Touching when you consider that Pa has known Ma all his life. After all, she is his younger sister.
Dr. Sigmoid Colon, a Viennese psychiatrist is allowed past the city limits after a 'rash of homosexuality' breaks out in Bumfuck. Dr. Colon's treatment against degeneracy and inversion is equally effective for country folk and barnyard animals. Though Dr. Colon is a student of Jung and Freud, his real school of thought is Danny Kaye.
On the Isle of Lesbos:
Blatz Balinski, the Supreme Ruler of Lesbos, is Fred Flintstone reincarnated as a diesel dyke. Blatz is the straight world's worst nightmare of a lesbian: She's big, she's mean and she bowls 200. A beer swigging tyrant whose heart melts when April lands on the Isle.
Emphysema Jones, the High Priestess of Lesbos. A black rhythm & blues diva whose solid advice never rings false. Even Blatz sees the light when Emphysema preaches the gospel according to Sappho.
Doris & Viv, Blatz's Praetorian Guard. Doris is a svelte Asian 'lipstick lesbian', Viv is a fiery Latina 'butch': Lovers since childhood, Doris's flirtations never fail to drive Viv into a jealous frenzy.
Lancethe fruitball Slave, the only male of the Isle. Lance was born to dance. Unfortunately, due to shitty karma, Lance has gone from star of the ballet to Cinderfella in the Isle of Lesbos. Kept in the dungeon until clean-up time, he harbors a passionate hatred for Blatz and all things lesbianic. Lance can only be freed if a handsome heterosexual hunk falls madly in love with him. A fairy tale that looks increasingly grim.
Max Stahl: Do you think ISLE OF LESBOS is going to rock the boat like your documentaries?
Jeff B. Harmon: Are you kidding!? There is something to amuse and provoke everyone in the audience. ISLE OF LESBOS is an equal opportunity offender. (...)
M.S.: As a genre, you picked musical comedy which is the most demanding. Not only do you write, produce and direct the film but you compose the music and act in two roles. Weren't you concerned about biting off more than you could chew?
J.B.H.: As you know I have a voracious appetite. I cannot function without a challenge, so why not go all the way? It worked and that's what counts. If it hadn't, I would have only myself to blame and believe me, I can live with that. I could never live with not having taken the risk.
M.S.: As an actor myself, I was surprised and impressed with your performance. Is there any particular method you use?
J.B.H.: It isn't Stanislavski. I've always been adept at accents and characterizations. Once the character is clear in my mind I can snap into it like a light switch.
M.S.: Weren't you concerned about directing and acting in the same scenes?
J.B.H.: Concerned, no. Terrified, yes. I hadn't acted for almost 20 years and I had no idea what I would look like on camera. But a funny thing happened. The days that I acted, all my tension was released so that it was actually calmer for me than on days I just directed. Also, the use of Video Assist helped me tremendously. I could view a video version on the take and immediately know whether it was a "print" or another take. Most important, I was able to detach my performance from my direction and view myself as one of the actors a necessary check against hybris.
M.S.: What baffles me is how you managed to make a musical comedy on an independent budget. Elements such as choreography and musical production numbers aren't standard fare in independent features. (...)
J.H.B.: I ignored the budget. It was my goal to make a 1940's technicolor-style musical so I broke down all the elements and resolved them piece meal. After I wrote the script and songs I found a first-rate musical director in England...his name is Anthony England...he worked on all the arrangements and pulled together an orchestra. We recorded all the songs, without vocals after all the film hadn't been cast yet. I hadn't even raised the financing yet.
M.S.: Isn't that arse backwards?
J.B.H.: What was I supposed to do, wait till Paramount backed me!? I'd still be humming the tunes in the shower, if I hadn't gotten the project moving.
M.S.: What did you tell the musicians?
J.B.H.: As little as possible. You see, the recording was done in Reading, a conservative town and Anthony was afraid of what the musicians might think about working on a lesbian musical. None of the music sheets had any lyrics, some didn't even have full titles. "Bumfuck, Arkansas" was "B.F. Arkansas," "I'm A Lesbian" was just "I'm A..." But it sounded great.
M.S.: What happened when they found out?
J.B.H.: They laughed. It was an all male orchestra but I dubbed them "The Royal BFA All Girl Orchestra." (BFA is an abbreviation for Bumfuck, Arkansas.) Whenever they play local gigs, they sneak in a riff of "Bumfuck, Arkansas" for old time's sake. They also greet each other on the streets of Reading with a high sign and "BFA." Which is a good thing since Reading needs a little profanity to liven up the atmosphere. It was, after all, where Oscar Wilde was jailed.(...)
M.S.: How did your career as a documentary film-maker help prepare you as a feature film director?
J.B.H.: What I learned in over ten years of making documentaries is of incalculable value. All but one of my films were produced under the most extreme situation imaginable war. The exception, Saddam's Iraq was made in a paranoid dictatorship that presented surreal obstacles only slightly less daunting than combat. Imagine making a film in Nazi Germany or Stalin's Soviet Union? In my other films such as The Front Line, Jihad and Afgan, I had to forge sense out of chaos and capture it on film with a minimum of equipment and crew. In war, when the bullets flying at you are real, there is only one take. While directing and producing feature films presents numerous problems, it is a luxury to have a production infrastructure and to have more than one take. Docu-mentaries taught me how to work miracles on a limited budget and most importantly, how to respond like lightning during a crisis.(...)
M.S.: Would you describe what you consider to be your single worst day? (...)
J.B.H.: (...) That would be the day the art director had a heart attack and the caterer didn't show up because his Rottweiler killed and ate a Mexican intruder. We were scheduled to shoot until midnight. At 11.30 pm, about to film the final scene of the day, I sat in Pa's rocker and watched as part of a set fell on top of the Associate Production Designer. He let out a terrible groan and at first I thought he had been killed. I jumped out of the rocker and screamed for an ambulance. Five minute after the accident, I was in Pa's rocker singing, "I'm A Lesbian." We finished filming at Midnight. The Associate Production Designer survived. And amazingly, with everything that happened that most awful day, we somehow stayed on schedule. I never, never stopped shooting.
M.S.: On the set, you ran the production with an iron grip. Is it really necessary to be a 'Film Führer' to keep things under control?
J.B.H.: Every director has a different approach. Let me clarify my position and film-making philosophy. Film-making is by nature a collaborative effort but most effective when it follows the vision of the film-maker. The effective writer/director sets the parameters of that vision but allows creative freedom within those parameters. As an example, for ISLE OF LESBOS, I compiled a video of clips of over 50 films pertaining to production and costume design, cinematography, choreography, etc. This was an invaluable tool for all the department heads so that they had a clear idea of what I was looking for. I did not want them to copy elements but to inspire them to create their own original designs and movements authentic to the 1940's esthetic I established for the film. (...) I often chaired meetings with all the department heads that not only inspired some of the wildest ideas in the film but also kept everyone on the same wavelength. There were no restrictions whatsoever during the planning stages of the film. But once I had made a final decision, it was time to build and move on. A similar process also applied to the actors. (...) In a nutshell: Pre-production was a free-for-all of ideas. Production was a speeding locomotive that didn't stop for wayward passengers. ISLE OF LESBOS had a grueling production schedule that did not allow for democracy. Perhaps my perspective is shaped by twenty years in and out of combat. But I view film-making as total war. (...)
Jeff B. Harmon, born on december 31, 1953, is an award-winning filmmaker and former war correspondent who spent twenty years capturing the dark side of history. A visitor to the abyss, he covered Emperor Bokassa's coronation, the fall of Idi Amin, The Nazi underground in Paraguay, the war in El Salvador, the war in Afghanistan from both the Mujahideen and Soviet sides and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
1983: The Front Line. 1986: Jihad - Afghanistan's Holy War. 1989: Afgan; Warlord of Kayan. 1991: Saddam's Iraq. 1996: ISLE OF LESBOS
Ouverture (The Royal BFA All Girl Orchestra), 'Isle of Lesbos' (Doris, Blatz, Viv, Emphysema & April), 'Bumfuck, Arkansas' (Pa), 'Lance's Lament' (Lance), 'I'm a Lesbian' (April, Ma & Pa), 'Homosexuality' (Dr. Colon & Townsfolk), 'Wedding Bells Ain't Ringing' (Dick Dickson), 'Same Sex Love' (Lance & Dick Dickson), 'They Got the Bomb' (The Bomb and Ensemble), 'Mom & Apple Pie' (Ma & Pa), 'Isle of Lesbos Reprise' (Ensemble), 'A New Age A Comin' (Emphysema & Ensemble), 'The Lady is a Dyke-atrian' (Lance-Jeff B. Harmon rendition & Dick).
© 1997 by International Forum of New Cinema. All rights reserved.