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John Sayles

1980 Return of the Secaucus 7
1983 Lianna 
1983 Baby It’s You
1984 The Brother from Another Planet
1987 Matewan
1988 Eight Men Out
1991 City of Hope
1992 Passion Fish
1994 The Secret of Roan Inish 
1996 Lone Star 
1997 Men With Guns
1999 Limbo
2002 Sunshine State
2003 Casa de los babys
2004 Silver City 
2007 Honeydripper

In a country that defines today’s cinematic reality to a huge extent, it has always been interesting to discover and showcase voices and ways of seeing that function outside the organized production system and, especially, outside the narrative and aesthetic forms of Hollywood and the big studios. For this reason,American independent cinema has always been at the center of attention of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival and there are many films and filmmakers that have been introduced to its audiences as an alternative to American cinema. However, until now, this systematic and long-time effort of the Festival’s had been marked by a large void. This void represented the work of John Sayles. John Sayles has had a singular career in American cinema. Having studied Psychology, having distinguished himself as a writer, having appeared as an actor on stage and having entered the field of cinema as the screenwriter of some of Roger Corman’s now legendary B-movies, John Sayles made his first directorial attempt with Return of the Secaucus 7, which was released in 1980 and left an indelible mark, certainly on his own career, but also on the history of American cinema. Filmed with few means and even fewer funds, with a cast of unknowns and a director who had never before sat in the director’s chair, not even as a second assistant director, Secaucus 7 was a box office hit, thanks exclusively to its sharp dialogue, its discreet political criticism and its sensitive portrayal of human characters faced with the dilemmas of everyday life.These three ingredients would become salient features of Sayles’s later work, while the film itself paved the way for a new “school” of directing, the proponents of which would attempt to “go out there” and touch the greater public with stories that the studio system didn’t dare (and still dares not) touch. From that moment on, John Sayles was dubbed the “father of independent cinema,” an appellation he rejects. Whether he is or isn’t historically the father of independent cinema, John Sayles has remained faithful, as few others have, to the exact same vision that inspired his first film.With the passage of time, his oeuvre has been enriched by films belonging to many different genres (sci-fi with Brother from Another Planet, children’s fairytale with The Secret of Roan Inish, etc.), his screenwriting craftsmanship has woven some of the most complex and manycharactered stories of American cinema (City of Hope, Sunshine State), and his directorial skill has approached perfection in certain films (Matewan, Passion Fish, Lone Star, Limbo). Sayles has been given countless awards by film festivals and committees and has twice been nominated for an Academy Award. With sixteen feature films to his credit, John Sayles has matured, has won acclaim and has charted a truly remarkable career, which viewers can follow step by step in the complete retrospective hosted by the 48th Thessaloniki Film Festival. But besides the opportunity to witness the creative development of a major filmmaker and besides the joy of watching certain excellent films, the tribute to John Sayles comes along to complement the image we have of American independent cinema and, as we watch his latest film, Honeydripper, to confirm that John Sayles undoubtedly remains a teller of untold stories, a commentator on sensitive issues and a creator of deep humanity; in other words, a truly independent film director.

John Sayles

Honeydripper / John Sayles

It’s 1950 in Harmony, Alabama. “Honeydripper” is the name of the juke joint run by Ty Purvis. Things aren’t going well for Ty, whose place is more a social club for old bluesmen than a going concern. Determined to give it one more shot, and against every instinct,Ty has decided to hire the electric guitar player Guitar Sam. On Saturday,Ty goes to meet Guitar Sam at the train station, but he never shows up. In this desperate moment, Ty remembers that kid, Sonny, who came by the club claiming he could play the guitar as good as Guitar Sam. Sonny is getting ready and out he steps into the crowded room to play the guitar...

Director:John Sayles
Script:John Sayles
Cinematography:Dick Pope
Editing:John Sayles
Sound:Philip Stockton
Music:Mason Daring
Art Direction:Eloise Crane Stammerjohn
Costumes:Hope Hanafin
With:Danny Glover (Tyrone Purvis), Lisa Gay Hamilton (Delilah), Yaya DaCosta (China Doll), Charles S. Dutton (Maceo), Vondie Curtis-Hall (Slick), Gary Clark Jr. (Sonny), Mable John (Bertha Mae), Stacy Keach (Sheriff), Nagee Clay (Scratch), Absalom Adams (Lonnie), Arthur Lee Williams (Metalmouth Sims), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Stokely), Davenia McFadden (Nadine), Daryl Edwards (Shack Thomas) Sean Patrick Thomas (Dex), Eric L.Abrams (Ham), Kel Mitchell (Junebug), Keb’ Mo’ (Possum), Tom Wright (Cool Breeze), Donnie L. Betts (Mr. Simmons), John Sayles (Zeke), Mary Steenburgen (Amanda Winship), Brian D.Williams (Luther), Santana Shelton (Opal)
Producer:Maggie Renzi
Production:Anarchists’ Convention. Production Design: Toby Corbett
Production Country:U.S.A.
Format:35mm, Color
Production Year:2007
Screening Schedule
OLYMPION:Saturday, November 24, 2007 - 19:30
ODEON-PLATIA 2:Sunday, November 25, 2007 - 23:00
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