Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We could all use a table like Zicree's

The Table (2011)
a documentary film by Ana Barredo
71 minutes
The Table is a group of writers, directors, actors, producers, editors and anyone else working or hoping to work in the entertainment industry. The group has been meeting every Thursday for almost 20 years to discuss their strategies on breaking into the exclusive club known as Hollywood. The Table's founder is Marc Scott Zicree, best known for The Twilight Zone Companion book. In 2010, part-time indie filmmaker Ana Barredo was invited to attend a Table meeting. Taken just after the first meeting, she decided to pick up her camera and follow the group for a year. The result is a heartwarming story about how these eclectic individuals provide support and inspiration for each other through the heartbreaks and triumphs of making it in Hollywood. -- synopsis, The Table

Couldn't we all use a table like Zicree's, a place where each each person could speak up and say, Here's who I am, here's what I have to offer you, here's what I'm working on, and here's what I need?

When I first learned about Ana Barredo's film--set for a NewFilmmakers screening a couple of weeks ago--I was immediately intrigued. I couldn't get to that event, so I requested a screener. But before I even sat down to watch it, I started thinking about what's lacking in my own area of the arts in New York, the precarious world of dance writing and dance journalism.

Where is our table, our space where we can put aside ego and ambition --and, yes, discouragement--long enough to offer support and practical aid to one another?

I also checked any underlying attitude about Hollywood people. As Zicree says in the film, the Hollywood he knows, through his relationships with his table mates for 20 years, is not the stereotypical one of backstabbers, the super-famous and the shallow.

Barredo, an indie filmmaker, uses a gentle curiosity about people to highlight the ordinary, and often sweet, humanity in the wide range of the thousands of people Zicree has brought together under the shadow of the Hollywood sign. Some of these folks you will recognize--such as Star Trek's Mr. Sulu, and now an out-and-proud LGBT rights advocate, George Takei. Others you will never have heard of, but they are part of the sensitive web of exchange that has made the entertainment industry a little less formidable for talented people gathering each Thursday night in the backroom of a restaurant.

The Table is also a lovely, amusing portrait of Zicree and his wife, Elaine--a couple of people who clearly believe that there's enough good stuff in this world that we can spread it around. It's all about giving.

See this film and think about the possibilities.

Web site for The Table

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