Writer/Director: David Licata
Running Time: 6:00
For more information visit: http://www.bloodorangefilms.com
• New Directors/New Films (presented by MoMA the Film Society of Lincoln Center)
• Tribeca Film Festival (NY)
• Santa Barbara Int'l Film Festival (CA)
• Denver Int'l Film Festival (CO)
• Black Maria Film Festival (Director's Prize)
• Rochester Int'l Film Festival (NY) (Best of the Fest)
• Dance on Screen Film Festival (London, UK)
• Mumbai International Film Festival (Mumbai, India)
• Salento Film Festival (Tricase, Italy)
• Las Garzas Int'l Film Festival (Panama City, Panama)
• Cinedans (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
• Vdance-International Video Dance of Tel-Aviv (Tel-Aviv, Israel)
• Dance Moments Festival (Krakow, Poland)
• Cleveland Int'l Film Festival (OH)
• Sedona Int'l Film Festival (CA)
• Maryland Film Festival
• Woodstock Film Festival (NY)
• Port Townsend Film Festival (WA)
• Garden State Film Festival (NJ)
• Anchorage Int'l Film Festival (AK)
• Williamstown Film Festival (MA)
• Marco Island Film Festival (FL)
• Greenwich Film Festival (CT)
• Waterfront Film Festival (MI)
• Palm Springs Int'l Short Film Festival (CA)
• Milwaukee Int'l Film Festival (WI)
• Dance Camera West Film Festival (CA)
Meet Eva and Adamo, an ordinary bickering, elderly couple who have an unusual way of working out their disagreements — they bring them to the dance floor! TANGO OCTOGENARIO tells its story in a manner that treads the line between grim reality and fairy tale, creating a world where mundane spats and music emanating from the ether coexist. The film features outstanding performances by nonactors Jean and Alex Turney (79 and 84) and veteran actor Paul Albe. The dance and the music it is set to, “La Camorra 1″ (“camorra: means “quarrel”) by legendary Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla, further contribute to the tension between reality and fantasy.
David Licata wrote and directed 8 ½ x 11, an award-winning short film that takes a wry look at the job interview process. 8 ½ x 11 had a strong run on the festival circuit and can be seen on IFILM. It is also out on DVD, accompanying the feature film TEMPORARY GIRL, and can be purchased at Target, Best Buy, and Amazon.com, or rented from NetFlix.
Mr. Licata is the proud author of numerous feature screenplays, predominantly quirky, bittersweet comedies. They have been said to have thematic and stylistic similarities to such films as RUSHMORE, MOONSTRUCK, ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, HIGH FIDELITY, AMERICAN BEAUTY, and HAIRSPRAY. His most recent screenplay, GIRLS WILL BE BOYS, is a romp-o-rific modernization of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."
He has written for SportsFigures (ESPN), a television series that explores a variety of math and physics concepts in the world of sports and uses well-known athletes to help explain the relationships.
Mr. Licata contributed 683 movie reviews for The Blockbuster Video Guide to Movies and Videos, and 140 movie reviews and 13 essays on film genres for Seen That, Now What?
Mr. Licata has been awarded grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and Dance Films Associations and was an artist-in-residence at Fundacion Valparaiso (Spain) and Centrum Arts and Creative Education (WA). He is currently producing and directing a documentary, A LIFE'S WORK, a sponsored project of The New York Foundation for the Arts.
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What inspired you to make this piece?
The seed of TANGO OCTOGENARIO was a conversation with a fellow filmmaker, Bert Shapiro. Over lunch Bert told me his wife, Charlotte, who is in her 70s, was taking tango lessons. The image bowled me over, and I wrote the script shortly afterward. A year or so later I was looking to make a short film. I wanted to do something radically different from my previous film, 8 ½ X 11, a dark comedy about job interviews. That film was dialogue-driven and very static, shot on one set, and with two basic set-ups; it was essentially shot -- reverse shot. It used very fine professional actors, including Paul Albe, who is in TANGO OCTOGENARIO, and Ellen Pompeo, star of GREY'S ANATOMY. The opposite of 8 ½ X 11 would be a film that was very cinematic, that would use movement and color and light to tell its story and not rely on dialogue. I wanted to shoot on location and in 35 mm, and I was intrigued by the possibility of casting nonactors. I dug out the script for TANGO OCTOGENARIO and got to work.
Briefly tell us about how you made your film or video: what camera and format did you use to shoot your piece, and what system did you use to edit it? What is your working process? Did you use any special techniques to make this work?
I received a substantial grant to make TANGO OCTOGENARIO from the New York State Council of the Arts. Dance Films Association awarded me a finishing fund grant. The rest of the film (about 40 percent of the budget) was funded with my own money. We shot the film on 35 mm film, aspect ratio 1:85, using a package from Panavision (thank you Panavision, you were very nice to us). We shot on location on Second Avenue (you can see the Second Avenue Deli in the background) and in the Ukrainian National Home, with a crew of 25 to 30 people. Technicolor processed and color corrected the film (thank you Technicolor, you were very nice to us). Richard Morse edited the film on his Apple laptop with Avid Express. Process: I wrote the script, which in this case consisted mostly of the opening dialogue. I knew the bulk of the film was going to be the dance, and I wanted the story to be told by the dance, but how does one write a tango? One doesn't. I storyboarded the film during an artist residency, and once I secured cinematographer Wolfgang Held, we spent many hours watching dance segments I found inspiring and talking about colors, movement, and composition.
Next, I brought on choreographer Nancy Turano and we discussed casting.
Do you have any interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the making of this particular work?
"Where are you going to find 80-year-old tango dancers?" people asked me.
"This is New York City," I'd respond, "you can find anything here."
Perhaps, but not always that easily. Despite many phone calls and outreach at dance studios, I wasn't finding my dancers. I was being punished for my hubris. In order to exercise my panic away, I went to my health club. On the gym's bulletin board I saw a flyer announcing an upcoming exhibition to be put on by a couple of elderly tango dancers, Alex and Jean Turney. I attended and asked them to audition. They accepted, I suspect more out of flattery than wanting to be in my film. The audition was a formality really, I knew I had found my Adamo and Eva. My only question was whether they could withstand the demands of the shoot. Nancy Turano, knowing dancers all too well, had no question they could. (I am saddened to report that Jean Turney passed in November 2005. But in 2004 she and her husband of 55 years, Alex, did much to promote the film. One of the highlights of my entire TANGO experience was inviting them onstage to introduce the film during the New Directors/New Films showcase at the Walter Reade Theater.)
What is the relationship between your work as a video/filmmaker and life in the New York metropolitan area?
New York City is an inseparable part of my life as an artist; it informs everything I create. The other day I was sitting on a bench in Riverside Park with a friend when a man on the grass behind me took out his bagpipes and began practicing. Seated beside him was a woman reading the FINANCIAL TIMES. As he practiced, she rested her hand on his thigh. It was a wonderfully surreal moment and one that has already found a place in a story I'm writing. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't meet an interesting character, see a unique location, overhear a great bit of dialogue, or discover a compelling composition. I can't imagine anywhere else in the world where that would be true.
What films/videos and makers have inspired or influenced your work and why?
In many ways, TANGO OCTOGENARIO is my way of reconciling my love for MGM musicals and my love for independent films that come out of New York. So, on the one hand Stanley Donen and Vincente Minnelli, on the other Jim Jarmusch and Hal Hartley. I'm currently making a documentary (working title: A LIFE'S WORK), and here too my influences seem to be polar opposites: Werner Herzog and Erroll Morris, the Maysles and Fredrick Wiseman.
If viewers are interested in obtaining copies of your work for rental and purchase, whom should they contact and at what address and phone number?
Blood Orange Films
75 West End Avenue, P7A
New York, NY 10023