SXSW 2000 Film Festival and Conference

Moon Over Broadway

Dir: D. A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus; Cast: Carol Burnett, Philip Bosco, Ken Ludwig, Tom Moore, Elizabeth Wilson, Rocco Landesman.

35 mm, 97 min., 1997

In their latest work, landmark filmmakers Pennebaker and Hegedus (The War Room) document the backstage life of Moon Over Buffalo, a play which had a nine-month run on Broadway two seasons ago. What they reveal won't shock anyone with experience in the theatre: It's work. Hard work. For weeks on end, the artists struggle to define what will get the big laugh -- or any laugh. Tensions escalate as the key players -- playwright Ken Ludwig, director Tom Moore, stars Carol Burnett and Philip Bosco, and backer Rocco Landesman -- grow progressively more frustrated over parts of the show that don't work. The degree to which Hegedus and Pennebaker capture this anxiety and conflict is impressive, but so is the weight they give to the efforts to amend, the complex negotiations over turf and contributions, and the reassurances that keep the show moving forward. Like The War Room, Moon Over Broadway shares a regard for the grueling work behind the scenes that makes a show happen, and its depiction of that work makes the show less glamorous but even more fascinating. [Originally published in the Chronicle 4/3/98]

Thu, Mar 16, 11:30am, Dobie

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