FICG in LA at NALIP Media Summit
Tired, cranky, sweaty. Tired as it had been a rough night’s sleep, one of those nights where, for no apparent reason, sleep becomes elusive and you spend the night tossing, turning, watching the black of night slowly become the bluegray of morning. Cranky as, while I was waiting to be overtaken by sleep, someone was slithering beneath my car and stealing its catalytic converter (didn’t know the precious metals they contain makes them an attractive target for thieves. I do now). Sweaty as, now that driving wasn’t an option, my bicycle had to carry me on this sweltering day from errand to errand before I was to arrive at the Egyptian. I knew it was the opening night of NALIP’s annual conference and that FICG in LA, the wonderful arm of FICG that the even more wonderful Hebe Tabachnik had brought me into last year, was joining forces with the formidable NALIP, whose presence in this town is a lifeline to so many, and Hebe herself was to receive some form of formal recognition. What that all meant I had no idea. A few last minute additions to the schedule meant it was going to be a full evening, and Hebe was nowhere to be found.
So yeah, it wasn’t the most comfortable situation but something might come of it, no? I got there before the 4:30 screening of the powerful NO MAS BEBES, as relevant, resonant and emotionally overwhelming a documentary as has been made of late. The film was preceded by an hour’s worth of shorts, one of which, William D. Caballero’s funny and insightful “How You Doin’, Boy?” could thaw even the iciest of moods. There wasn’t much of a break between BEBES and the night’s centerpiece screening of ARDOR, as the earlier program ran well over time, but I finally ran into Hebe making her way about the courtyard. Turns out she was to receive the inaugural NALIP Moving Film Forward Award for her long and unwavering commitment to bringing underrepresented filmmakers into the light. If anyone deserves such an honor, it’s Hebe. However, there was one thing I needed to know.
“You’re not going to cry, are you?” I asked, half jokingly.
“Oh no,” she replied. “These guys are friends, they are colleagues. I will not get emotional.”
Okay. In the decade-plus that I’ve known Hebe I’ve come to love her warmth and openness, her unfettered and unguarded love of film and its creators that, in an industry driven by fear, cynicism and zero-sum politics, is impossibly rare. Her recognition of artists and their achievements at festivals is always done with great emotion, something I had always been taught to suppress. Regardless, I gladly count myself among the army of filmmakers she’s taken under her wing and nurtured.
No tears? We’ll see.
Soon I’m seated in the grand (and air-conditioned) Lloyd E. Rigler theater as NALIP Projects Director Ben Lopez and Executive Director Axel Caballero open the conference. And then the time comes for the presentation of the Moving Film Forward Award…and the Hebenistas go nuts. Nuts. Elvis-has-just-entered-the-building nuts. Beatles in ’64 nuts. There was something comforting in knowing that there were so many of us all in one place, rallying around our beloved friend. Ms. Tabachnik steps up, statuesque and beautiful as always...and yes, the tears came, as they should have. And a reel screened of all her accomplishments. And more tears came. And words of thanks were given.And we cheered even louder. And it all felt right.