Introduction by Ed Dimenberg,
Professor of Film and Media Studies, UCI
Cinema verite reaches a new level of reality in this film-within-a-film as director William Greaves dares to break the accepted rules of cinema. It is 1968 and Greaves and his crew are in New York’s Central Park, ostensibly filming a screen test. The drama involves a bitter break up between a married couple. But this is just the “cover story.” The real story is happening “off” camera as the enigmatic director pursues his hidden agenda. The growing conflict and chaos—accompanied by moments of uproarious humor—explodes on screen producing the energy, and the insights, that the director is searching for.
The director uses multiple cameras, mixes cinema verite and conventional shooting styles and experiments with a variety of other cinematic techniques including the use of simultaneous split-screen images. The result is a film with multiple levels of reality that reveals, and comments upon, the creative process.
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One may well be the first self-reflexive feature film to have been produced in cinema verite style. Greaves compares the making of “Symbio” to jumping off a cliff without a parachute. (press release)
“Fascinating... Highly entertaining and, at moments, revelatory... It’s a wonderful gift to us that Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One has finally made it into theaters. —Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“Greaves’s place in history is unarguable, whether it’s then, now, in the future, or all of the above.” —Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice
1968, USA • 70 minutes • 35mm • Directed by William Greaves