Could fate deliver one of my heart’s greatest desires in time for my birthday next week? That was the subject of a whimsical blog which I had intended to post, but have now totally discarded. Why? Because one of my crazy, seemingly over-the-top ambitious wishes has just been granted! My wish was for Keep the Change—the feature-length film in which Samantha co-stars—to “be accepted into a major film festival and released in 2017 to acclaim.” Before I could press “publish,” Rachel Israel, director of Keep the Change, called to say that the film will premiere in the Tribeca Film Festival as a competitive selection.
“Does that mean it’s still competing to be in the festival?” I was about to get on the Q train and had trouble hearing and absorbing the information over my cell phone.
“It’s already in the festival. Being ‘a competitive selection’ means the film is in a plum position and eligible for awards,” Rachel explained.
“That’s so wonderful! Congratulations!” Tribeca Film Festival? Possible awards? A film about characters with autism played by actors on the spectrum? Such news is especially miraculous and wonderful in the context of a president who mocked a disabled reporter and a Secretary of Education who has so far demonstrated no understanding (or interest in) laws concerning Americans with Disabilities.
Best of all, my daughter was standing right next to me when I got the news. She began squealing with joy, all smiles and exuberant hugs as the doors to the shiny new Q train opened for us. (Metaphorical doors? Who knows?) But what an amazing accomplishment for a female director, debuting her first feature length, low-budget film with a group of actors on the spectrum!
To put this accomplishment context, consider the Tribeca announcement which states: “there were more than 8,700 film submissions this year, of which 3,362 were feature films.” Only 82 were selected for screening, and somehow Keep the Change was chosen, and is even being considered for awards. (!!!) The Tribeca news also says: “In a year of record high submissions, the curator chose to reduce the size of the overall program by 20%, making this the most selective and focused festival yet.” In the competitive section of 32 films, Keep the Change is one of only 10 US Narratives selected (along with 10 international narratives and 12 documentaries)—pretty rarified company.
In 2015 Being Charlie—co-authored by my son Matt Elisofon and Nick Reiner, directed by Rob Reiner—was featured in the Toronto Film Festival. I thought my heart would burst with pride at the time. Now Samantha’s film is headed to the Tribeca Film Festival. Have I died (and temporarily) gone to heaven? How many parents have 20-something twins where one has disabilities and BOTH end up in major film festivals? If I’m dreaming, please don’t wake me up. As for my birthday wish list, I deleted it because I don’t want to sound greedy. Also, I have a silly and superstitious fear that printing my other wishes will stop them from coming true. In that spirit, I’ll make my next wish when I blow out my candles and hold it close to my heart till next year.