GenArt Film Festival - "The Ladies" & "Surfwise"- April 5, 2008
Saturday night at the GenArt Film Festival, two really great documentaries played to an enthusiastic audience at the Visual Arts Theatre. The first was a short subject documentary called The Ladies by director Cristina Varos about her two aunts Vali and Mimi from Hungary who live together in New York and work as dress makers. It was a touching and funny portrait of two women. The next was the amazing feature documentary Surfwise by director Doug Pray. Surfwise tells the story of Dorian ‘Doc’ Paskowitz who gave up his profession as a doctor to live a nomadic lifestyle as a surfer and took his wife and nine children along for the ride on a 24-foot RV. GenArt’s Aaron Levine moderated an audience Q&A after the screening with Surfwise producer and second-born son Jonathan Paskowitz, along with producer Matt Weaver, and The Ladies’ director Varos.
Levine: How did The Ladies come to be?
Varos: I had just started film school in New York. My 89- and 93-year-old aunts offered me a place to sleep. The only way for me to not kill them and them to not kill me was to make a movie about them. Mimi would tear the shower curtain open in the morning when I was in it. All the things that would drive me crazy were all of a sudden wonderful.
Levine: How is your dad now?
Paskowitz: He had and osteo-arthritic hip. He’s fine now. He’s limber and surfs every day. He moved back to California. The family has been way more together in the process of making this film and at the reunion my mom put together. Since then, we’ve been closer than ever.
Levine: How did you get all that footage of the family?
Weaver: Just luck. They had all these home movies.
Paskowitz: We got all this free Kodak film.
Levine: Are your aunts still making dresses?
Varos: They’re sort of still making dresses. They still have a few clients. They’ve been joking that they’re going to retire to watch American Idol.
Levine: How did you decide that your life was different than others?
Paskowitz: From the beginning. One of the doctors at the clinic thought we should be in school. My father wasn’t swayed. He made his decisions on his gut impulse. He realized that Hawaii had a huge substance abuse problem. He could see us going down the same path. That’s where the camper life began.
Levine: Matt, how did you get involved with Surfwise?
Weaver: I went to the surf camp. I had read about the family in Life Magazine in 1990. Dorian got me the rights 18 years late for $1. A couple of years ago, the most important thing for me was to get the true story told.
Audience Question: How would your father articulate the mold of his life?
Paskowitz: Family & Sex. He wrote a book on how to choose a mistress. I was stunned what I didn’t know. There’s a ton of social pressure for sex. He really cares about family. Family structure is currently hurting society. I think this film shows that family is key, speaking for dad, even though he’d never see this.