Movies about the difficulty of making movies shouldn't work at all, really. The potential for navel-gazing is immense. The narcissistic insularity of the topic is potentially galling. Yet the best of these films, especially in the documentary realm, turn their subjects' travails into the stuff of universal Job-like pain, suffering and human comedy.
Take "Unmade in
Pretty bad, according to this cinematic diary co-directed by Tanner King Barklow and Kofman. Shooting a genre thriller under the thumb of the local communist officials entails the wining and dining of said officials, along with gifts of cartons of cigarettes in exchange for filmmaking permits. "Case Sensitive" wasn't a Chinese/U.S. co-production; it was all Chinese, and therefore, according to our droll host Kofman, all adversity.
Script changes included transforming the script's key murder weapon from a gun or a knife into something less offensive: a bike tire pump. Nothing worked as planned. The cinematographer, a woman, was fired early in the shoot, essentially for being female. Kofman, the exasperated American abroad, soldiered on, shooting in the rainy season.
This isn't "Burden of Dreams" or "Hearts of Darkness," to name two major docs about the torturous process of creating Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" and Francis Ford Coppola's