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THE GOLDEN BOAT

USA, 1990 (MIFF 1991)

Director: Raul Ruiz

Raul Ruiz is undeniably a unique figure in world cinema. With well over 40 films to his credit since he began his career in 1968 in Chile, Ruiz has been acclaimed as one of the most inventive & transgressive visual stylists of our time. Watching a Ruiz film is almost a crash course in film history since the advent of sound. Combining psychological drama, police thriller, film noir, fantasy and mystery, Ruiz turns dreams into whimsical images. And here, using dialogue that smacks of Raymond Chandler, TV cop shows & soap operas, he transforms popular literature & plain psychology into Freudian statements. The Golden Boat is the first feature Ruiz has made in the United States, and follows a long spell in France. True to form, this is a madcap, surreal dash through the streets of New York City, from the perspective of a comically compulsive assassin who joins up with a young rock critic and philosopher named Israel Williams. Scattered liberally throughout their adventures, as the assassin pursues the object of his desire -a Mexican soap opera star - are a host of insults to the question "Is there a God?". Ruiz has also managed to capture a particular cultural moment in New York by assembling a fascinating line-up of hip media stars in their own right as stars of this film, including Michael Kirby, Jim Jarmusch, Vito Acconci, Kathy Acker and Joan Jonas, Although unmistakably a Ruiz concoction, The Golden Boat has undoubtedly been influenced by Ruiz's Lower East Side collaborators, who have added a punchy contemporary atmosphere lacking in his French language museum pieces. Bizarre editing and no-frills cinematography (by Maryse Alberti who also shot Poison and H-2 Worker) make for arrestingly disconcerting images that evoke a cockeyed alternative universe.

Poison producer and festival guest Christine Vachon was first assistant director on the film, and will answer questions after screenings.

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