by Mark Elijah Rosenberg
March 12th, 2008
Like the film itself, this story has (in its own way) a happy ending. As you probably read in my other posts below, Benh Zeitlin–the director of “Glory at Sea,” a miraculous short film that Rooftop co-funded–was in a brutal car accident the day of his first screening at SXSW. He’s doing much better now, with his metal hip, painkillers, and tremendous set of friends and supporters. Contrary to a popular rumor, the infamous welder-turned-actor who plays Sergeant Major in the film, Jimmy Lee Moore, did NOT perform Benh’s operation.

Although Benh wasn’t able to attend the first two screenings of his film, he may actually be able to get to the Friday March 14 show at 2:30pm (so go join him if you can for what promises to be a very emotional screening). And so, laid up in a hospital bed, the festival has come to him.

Many filmmakers sent along copies of their films so Benh could watch them in his hospital bed (holding his laptop inches from his face as he awaits new eyeglasses to replace the ones lost in the car). Many more people cheered on the film and sent their well wishes. I know Benh would like to pass on his thanks to all of you.

And last night, “Glory at Sea” took home the SXSW Wolphin Award for Best Short Film.

Zeitlin_Wholphin-SMALL.jpgBrent Hoff and Emily Doe from Wholphin, the excellent DVD magazine that is part of the beneficient McSweeney’s empire, presented the award to “Glory” producers Josh Penn, Dan Janvey, and Par Parekh. Fittingly for such a funky, underwater film, and for a DVD zine named for a cross between a whale and a dolphin, the award itself was a pinky-sized vial containing a tiny squid, found some 6,000 feet beneath the sea by an official Wolphin oceanographer.

Immediately following the awards ceremony, I went with about 20 people to visit Benh and celebrate. He was moved and delighted and proud, and really loving the symbolism of this tiny dead creature pulled from the depths of the sea.

Facts about the accident, car insurance and medical bills are still sketchy, but plans for celebration / benefit screenings in Austin and New York are in the works.


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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.


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