SXSW 2000 Film Festival and Conference

A Sign From God

Dir/Scr/Prod: Greg Watkins; Prod/Ed: Caveh Zahedi; Exec Prod: Richard Clark; DP: Jennifer Jew; Music: Jonathan Richman; Cast: Laura Macias, Caveh Zahedi, Celia Gamburg, Ester Mammet, Francisca Schneider, Sarah K. Trelaub.

35mm, 73 min., 1999 (RP)

"Either everything means something or nothing does," declares Caveh Zahedi, the aloof protagonist of A Sign From God. He opts for the former. Over the course of one day, one very bad day, Caveh and his girlfriend are evicted from their apartment because Caveh spent the rent money funding his mess of an avant-garde film. Then he causes a car wreck. He's so busy telling himself that everything happens for a reason that it's impossible for him to solve any of his problems, and it's making his girlfriend quite angry. When she demands to know why they had to be evicted and why Caveh caused a car wreck, and why he is never able to follow through on any of his promises, he begins to search for the answers. Sort of. This engaging and utterly humane film works on every level. Watkins has a concise eye; there's not a foot of film that seems unnecessary.

"New York Is Disappearing," the short showing before the feature, depicts two New York bohemians just brimming with creepiness. He draws on eggshells and later cracks them; she's worried about Robert De Niro's intention to build a restaurant and hopes the stock market will crash and stall his plans. Atmospheric and almost surreal, this is old-school artsy.

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