Teaser 279: The Mostly Unsuccessful First Release of the Documentary


We cut [the documentary] to two hours and forty-five minutes, excluding credits, which were extensive and took days to create and edit. When we all agreed, we showed the first draft to everyone in the studio, along with Lena and Esperanza, who would be flying back to Los Angeles in days. The consensus in the room was this would do. Let's get it out there.

It would not happen right away. Since the astounding success of Myth of Man and Woman, all over the world forces in direct opposition to my suggested aims, objectives and hopes for what I considered the right course of humanity had been gathering their accumulated voices in belittling and insulting me at every opportunity, these voices consisting mostly of pretty boys and girls of strained intelligence. This would signal the response of the powerful all over the globe and the focus, once it drew in the political and corporate faction, was Gaza. I'm sure you recall that, soon after the movie release, the Middle East, where Israel is centrally located, blew up yet again, something you could count on for seventy years, but this time, Al-Barrak was blamed for the latest skirmishes, violence and fatalities. I had theater owners in various countries call me to complain about the movie, or what I had done previously in Gaza, or they were getting a lot of heat from certain factions for showing my movie. I told them all the same thing. “I can't make you show the movie. You are under no obligation to show it, except to pay us what we have agreed when you do. If you feel it's in your best interest to discontinue showing it, I will not stop you or say a word about your decision. Do remember this. I prefer, at any time in the future, to do business with friends and supporters. I will not define what I consider a friend or supporter. I think you possess the intelligence to define either without my help.”

With all the flak, when we tried to contact various networks to show the documentary, the reception we received was this side of frigid. Only the BBC would agree to show it but only through their international network, not on their separate America network, and they would only negotiate a single, one-time broadcast rights, and for considerably less than what they often paid for similar presentations. I didn't want to argue about it. There were a lot of people in the humanitarian and environmental groups who were clamoring for it, and I thought they would help to make a difference. The BBC broadcast went off as planned, reviews were generally supportive though lukewarm, and interest and attention diminished to practically nothing one week later.

Then, some guy with a strange you-tube pseudonym posted a recording from years before with the former Gregory Hess slamming colleagues in a production office for back-biting and failure to cooperate, failure to even attempt to achieve greatness by combining and cooperating, my nearly forgotten combination monologue. In it are some very candid and unflattering remarks about capitalists' and money lenders' failures to achieve greatness when combining because the free-willed cooperation is lacking in every one of their endeavors and I used Nimrod as the shining example. Only cooperation from love achieves greatness in any combined effort, and people in this office better start loving or this entire effort will fail. Before the next seven days after this posting, the video had been viewed more than six million times, and it woke up the silent of my friends and supporters. More importantly, since the word had gotten out, it woke up theater owners who had decided they would rather remain one of my friends and supporters, and I was soon receiving offers to show the documentary through a limited release. One summed it up perfectly. “Al, screw the networks, their syndicates and allegiances. I'll proudly show it in every one of my markets, maybe in more than one theater if it does well, and frankly I think it will do well.” With this ringing the phones off the hook at the Munich studio, the same strange you-tube pseudonym posted Serena's response. In both you could see all the people, John, Drake, Will, Ken, Serena, the other producers. By now, everyone knew it was the production for The True Cross and the entire event took place before we had even begun shooting the movie. Serena's response, which I have written is even more poignant, endearing, and displays an impressive command of the English language which she had never received before, hit ten million views in four days.

A couple days later I received a call at the studio from Hiram. “I haven't heard from you in quite a while, Hiram. How have you been?”

“Perfectly well, thank you. What do you think of those you-tube posts?”

“What about 'em?”

“Who do you think might have recorded them? Aren't you curious?”

“You posted those?”

“Thought you could use a little help explaining yourself further, since you never said anything like it during your shows. I've seen 'em all, you know, and when I got to thinking about it, about everything that happened with your first movie, it seemed to me people don't remember how great Serena's performance truly was. English, in what should have been a Spanish movie? Yeah, people forget that. They're starting to remember now.”

“You're a devious bastard, you know that, Hiram?”

“Will you get your documentary in a theater out here soon, please? They haven't and won't show it on broadcast here.”

“Coming to a theater near Hiram, I promise you.”

That's how I found out about Hiram's recordings. The following week we had theaters signed for the theatrical showing of the documentary, again distributed by John's company, which we added to the introductory studio logos. Slightly less than a thousand theaters opened showing it in September, while Myth of Man and Woman was still showing in most of the original theaters, and the documentary drew more attendees than every action flick showing the first week. We slammed every one of them and published not a single commentary about it. The media all over the world, even those with whom we had less than friendly relations, published their takes. Few of them were flattering concerning the action flicks. Many stated their opinion the documentary was better entertainment than the action flicks. The documentary certainly wasn't more of the same, something most of the action flicks had already generated from critical and serious reviews. One reviewer, an American no less, stated, as a casual and ironic observation, both movies released this summer from AVAP could conceivably be in the running for Academy Awards, the performance as Best Foreign Film and the documentary as Best Documentary, which was rarely awarded to a non-American film. Reaction to this published statement was derision and cynicism.

All from the performance and everyone involved with the documentary, including all at the garden, followed my lead. “No comment.” Except for Rebekka, who stated during an interview shown on an American network, “I don't think I have to say anything about Myth of Man and Woman. I believe the movie speaks for itself, clearly and quite eloquently.” Kitana stated the ultimate message, in case anyone was lost in the verbal barrage. “We all have a huge amount of work to do here. We don't have time for meaningless chit-chat.”


- Just Desserts, Segment Thirty-FourDebut of a Movie Mogul” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

contact me, as always: schussprose@gmail.com