I’m going to turn 35 in January, which feels old enough to consider myself a man, inexperienced enough to still feel irresponsible; halfway to still being younger than Warren Beatty, alive enough to reflect on what really matters. And what really matters? Friendship. If, as my amazing friend John O’Donohue often said, our identities are dependent on our memories, and how we interpret them, then who I am is inextricably linked to my memories of things I have done with friends. Strange to think that I’ve been doing The Film Talk for nearly one tenth of my life. Of course, if Operation Save The Film Talk is the resounding success we all hope it will be, perhaps it will outlast even me (and hey – if you haven’t signed up to support the show and site yet, please do click the link here and consider us – we have some gorgeous gifts on offer this week). But for now, one tenth of my life still seems like a lot.
Which – in one of my patented not-all-that-subtle segues – brings me to Mike and Rosemary Riddell, writer & film-maker, former Baptist pastor and current family court judge, wearer of the most amazing hats and stylised gin afficianado (in appropriate does), a man who considers his dog a spiritual director, a woman who combines sass and spirit in measures I had never seen anywhere else before I met her, friends beyond my previous imagining of what friends could be; and people about whom you’ll be hearing a fair amount in the next year, because they are making a film whose script mingles the sensitivity of ‘Paris, Texas‘ with the humour of ‘Whale Rider‘, and hangs on the most unusual narrative hook this side of ‘Cold Souls‘: Arthur, a middle-aged homeless Maori fella with schizophrenia in Ponsonby, near Auckland, and believes that he is called to impregnate an unhappily married woman named Margaret with a view to her giving birth to the second incarnation of Jesus. Simple enough. He looks at the moon a lot – he made it, you see. He thinks about life. He gives good gifts to broken people. Meanwhile, a cynical television reporter, doubting preacher, and friendly boarding-house owner dance their own way into a deeper appreciation of meaning.
Rosemary Riddell and Tom Burstyn on set
‘The Insatiable Moon‘ is the second best novel I’ve ever read; the script needs no such qualifier: I’ve been excited about this movie since I read the book 12 years ago. Which means I’ve known Mike and Rose for over a third of my life. They’re making the film at the moment, with the mighty actor Rawiri Paratene (Koro the grandfather in ‘Whale Rider’) starring as Arthur, and cinematography by Tom Burstyn, while Rosemary directs and Mike watches his words come alive. The journey to production has been long and tortuous, with funders in and out, some well-known cast members withdrawing after the budget was cut, and only a few weeks ago a step-back-from-the-brink decision not to cancel the film altogether.
Mike Riddell, Tom Burstyn, Rawiri Paratene on set
Mike’s blogging the production here – there’s a delightful sense of a film being born; entirely appropriate, given the novel’s themes of birth and re-birth. (You can become a fan on Facebook here too.) The book’s been out of print for a while, but that will surely correct itself when the film is released. So I’m sending good wishes from God is Not Elsewhere – we know how hard it is to make a film; we’re always thrilled when people put their heart and souls into cinema; if ‘The Insatiable Moon’ ends up being half the film it could be, the literary invention of Arthur in the mid-1990s will have been a gift to the world.
[The video above was made a couple of years ago to promote the fundraising for the film – but it gives a taste of things to come.]