While most of Hollywood is focused on the traditional end-of-the-year Oscar fare from the studios, the folks over at Cinefamily are celebrating the surreal and the silly this weekend by paying tribute the consummate indie filmmaker, Robert Downey Sr.
Robert Downey Jr. was on hand last night to kick off the four-day tribute to his father with a screening of Chafed Elbows, which featured Elsie Downey in a variety of roles while she was pregnant with Downey Jr. One of the film's envelope-pushing plotlines, of which there are many, finds the protagonist struggling with a relationship with his mother that would make Oedipus blush.
"What did your mother think when you were making a movie about a character with your voice sleeping with his mother?" asked Downey Jr. of his father.
The underground filmmaker, a man of few words, explained the motivation for some of the madness in his work.
Why did he elect to use little people in so many of his productions?
"Because when they talk you listen," said Downey Sr.
And his answer to writer's block?
"Marijuana," he said.
If you missed last night, there are still several famous faces who will pay tribute to Downey Sr. this weekend. Director Paul Thomas Anderson will host a conversation with the filmmaker before a screening of Greaser's Palace, which was named by the Coen Brothers as one of their favorite films of all time. On Sunday, Louis C.K. will be on hand to talk about Downey Sr.'s classic, Putney Swope. The comedian cites it as "the first film that inspired me as a filmmaker."
Downey Sr., says Hadrian Belove, executive director at Cinefamily, is "an artist who represents our core Cinefamily values: a contagious passion for films and filmmaking, and an independent spirit that's totally singular to him," Adds Belove, "And he's awesome."