Ticket Information: $8 general, $6 students & seniors, $5 members
courtesy of press kit:
Forty years ago, Dorothea and Greta moved to the town of Checkford and bought an abandoned bread factory. They transformed it into an arts space. Here they host movies, plays, dance, exhibits. All types of artists visit. It’s where civic groups and immigrant communities can meet, where there are after school programs for children.
Now a celebrity couple—performance artists from China—have come to Checkford. They’ve constructed a huge building, the FEEL Institute, down the street. It is a strange sight for a small town.
Dorothea and Greta learn about a new proposal to give all the funding from the school system for their children’s arts programs to the FEEL Institute. Without this funding, the Bread Factory would not survive. They quickly rally the community to save their space. The commercial forces behind the FEEL Institute fight also, bringing a young movie star to town to help make their case. The school board meeting turns into a circus where the fate of the Bread Factory hangs in the balance.
Checkford hasn’t been the same since the school board meeting. Mysteriously, the reporter who runs the local newspaper disappears. Bizarre tourists start to show up, then come mysterious tech start-up workers. With all the new people, real estate is booming.
Amidst all these distractions, Dorothea and Greta try to continue their work. They are rehearsing a production of HECUBA by Euripides. On the day they open the play, Dorothea gets the news that the Bread Factory will lose an essential piece of their funding.
The beautiful opening night performance of HECUBA plays to a tiny audience. Brokenhearted, Dorothea and Greta must decide whether to give up their work at the Bread Factory because their community and support has disappeared, or to continue in their struggle to build community through art.
courtesy of press kit:
I have made two films, and they feel like training to have the tools I need to face this new project: a pair of films that looks at the state of art, community and commerce in our lives. This is no small thing. Arguably, it is the soul of everything.
The question of commerce is not new to me. I trained and worked as an economist for many years. But I thought like an old world economist, those who were called worldly philosophers. They were as likely to write treatises on empathy as on trade; they saw all these strands crossing in the same social fabric. It is this complex social fabric that interests me, and to study it, I pull at different threads in my own life.
My introduction into the arts took place in theaters, mostly under the tutelage of women. Women were my directors, my teachers. In the way my first film let me reflect on father figures, this film has given me the opportunity to think back on mother figures. Those golden days were marked by twin loves: my newfound love for dramatic art, and the generous love I received from my mentors.
These warm memories help me face colder contemporary forces. Laughter helps also. In the past, I’ve experimented with different forms of dramatic expression, and now it is exciting to use a wide range of comedy: behavioral, physical, visual, situational, verbal. Comedies often confine themselves to a narrow set of tools and conventions within a single film. Not doing so can quickly become a confused mess. However, a careful mixture of styles can be a unique way of shaping the rhythm of a film, injecting it with the excitement of unpredictability. To me this feels new but natural.
Weaving multitudes into coherence is the recurring task of these films that take place in a small town bursting with characters, plots and ideas. I was frequently on the lookout for aesthetic organizing principles that could gather multiple strands into braids. For example, early on I thought I was writing a musical. But when I tried writing musical scenes, I struggled with the strong stylistic change that comes when characters suddenly start singing. What the song added never seemed to be worth the jolt it created. Then it occurred to me to align the jarring change of characters singing with the jarring changes happening to the town. So all the new tourists coming to town sing, and this bursting into song interrupts the lives of the locals the same way it interrupts the style of the film. It is also performative in the way many contemporary communications are performative. The musical form then becomes a perfect tool for expressing what is happening in the story. The idea then starts to elaborate, and I think of the idea of a chorus of real estate brokers. I give them the most alluring music, singing the siren song of real estate, seducing you with the dream life you wish you could buy.
All the changes that occur in this small town are counterbalanced by a very old anchor: the classical Greek play “Hecuba” by Euripides. This beautiful and deeply humane poetry appears throughout the movies. It is an old echo to the contemporary pains of the characters. I have very particular views of how classical verse drama can be performed in our time. It has been a passion of mine on stage, and it was tremendously exciting to film it.
The two-film form doesn’t sound particularly extraordinary at first, but then you realize how few films have been designed in this format. These movies aren’t just sequels, they intentionally use the two-film form to house a dramatic and aesthetic structure that can’t fit elsewhere. These films are about loss. The first film looks at loss using a more traditional dramatic structure: there is a defined fight to protect something. The second film is about a more subtle, disturbing type of loss: when things slip away because we are not paying attention. It therefore has a slipperier dramatic structure that requires the groundwork of the first film before the audience is prepared to accept it. There is a lot of talk these days of serialized drama, but that talk is almost all confined to television. I believe this is a missed opportunity as film can approach the form asking the most bold, dense and existential questions.
courtesy of website:
Patrick Wang (director) was born in Texas, the son of Taiwanese immigrants. He graduated from MIT with a degree in economics and music and theater arts. He has studied game theory, health policy, and income inequality at the Federal Reserve, the Harvard School for Public Health, and other organizations. He is author of the books The Monologue Plays and Post Script, an interactive book about the making of The Grief of Others. His first film In the Family was hailed “an indie masterpiece” by Roger Ebert. His second film, The Grief of Others, premiered to critical acclaim at SXSW and Cannes. He was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine, and the New York Times remarked, “This is a career to keep an eye on.”
LinksHere is a curated selection of links shared on our Facebook page for additional insight/information:
12/27/18 – “A Bread Factory is an idealistic statement about the importance of art in everyday life. It’s about how a scene from a play or a line from a poem can cast a new light on your problems or dreams, maybe put a whole new frame around your life, your community, and the culture and nation that helped shape you.” Matt Zoller Seitz, ROGEREBERT.com – link
1/10/19 – “Shortly after Christmas, back in Chicago, I caught up with a two-part, four-hour masterpiece, A Bread Factory by Patrick Wang — too late to include it in any of my end-of-year lists, where it clearly deserves to belong” Jonathan Rosenbaum – link
1/14/19 – “Wang is a singular artist, but he taps into a rich tradition. The focus on the workings of an American institution may remind some of the expansive comedies of Robert Altman or the documentaries of Frederick Wiseman. But also, the blurring of the line between performance and reality, the embrace of an intimate theatricality, recalls the work of Jacques Rivette. These are cinematic giants, and this director may be on his way to joining them.” Bilge Ebiri, The New York Times – link