(Forgive the typos, edits will come later…)

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Note to self: Next Time, Bring Vitamins. Drink more water!

Life is what you make of it, and Stuart Alson’s New York International Independent Film and Video Festival has been one wild ride. The opportunities for moviemakers are endless!

In the last two days alone, I have developed friendships I know will last a lifetime, with people it will be a pleasure working with throughout that lifetime. How unique an experience to be in situation after situation where you can do business with people whose enthusiasm, artistic integrity and passion are a match to your own. Thank you Stuart and company.

There are big things to announce on the Star Circle Pictures front, but I think it’s only fair that my partners hear it before you .. not much earlier .. but a little! What I can reveal this morning is the formation of a strategic alliance.

The Festival has been setting the attendees up with additional opportunities. Last night, Jonathan and I hit press night for the new Bond film, Casino Royale, with Maxam Productions CEO Max Bartoli. We were joined at the Ziegfeld by 1,300 of my closest friends in the media. You literally couldn’t turn in one direction without having a discussion with a reviewer, which we did .. repetedly. We engaged in conversations and handed out screeners to genuinely interested press. (Lesson learned .. always travel with screeners!)

By the way, Daniel Craig brings first class acting chops to the best Bond script yet written.

After the film, the three amigos .. Jonathan, Max and myself .. headed back to Village East for a dinner with Stuart Alson and Independent Film Quarterly (IFQ) Executive Editor Nicole Holland.. Max sprung for the cab (All class!). Topics of conversation were far ranging .. literally .. from the L.A. Festival to Cannes. Stuart loves filmmakers. He created this festival after having sweated out his own production and going through the trials of getting it shown. He still works hard to get it right. During the Festival, he tends to operate on two hours sleep a night .. if he’s lucky. “I started my own festival so filmmakers could have the opportunity to be seen in major cities,” Stuart says. “I don’t want to be involved in the politics. I don’t want to make the films .. I just want to show them. I want to help filmmakers .. get them screened, get them press coverage, arrange distribution.”

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Far ranging discussions with New York International Independent Film and Video Festival’s Staurt Alson, Star Circle Pictures Producer Ethan Marten and Maxam Productions CEO Max Bartoli
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Finding common ground with Stuart and Max at the NYIIFVF 2006

He also enjoys meeting people and making friendships. We all agreed; take care of the family, eat well, keep a roof over your head, travel and making a living doing what you love with people you like makes for a wonderful life.

The day before, I was introducing Jonathan to fetching artist rep Francesca Giordano, the beautiful Paola, and World Class Painter Gersain Muriel. We had no trouble finding his Village apartment…until we got off the elevator! Not that it was difficult; we just took a couple of wrong turns in the hallway (note to self; bring sleep along with the vitamins)

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Paola, Francesca, E. and Gersain

Three lovelier people would seem impossible to find if I hadn’t already met so many on this trip. Gersain shared his art and his hospitality, while Francesca translated some things that might have been lost. We shared many laughs, and discussed the very heart of his art and soul.

I asked where this gift first came from, because it truly is a gift. Though Gersain is salt of the Earth .. totally without pretension .. standing before one of his works it is obvious to anyone who can see or feel that you’re standing before greatness.

Gersain himself would probably disagree. Instead, he would more likely point out (as he did) that two or three previously painted images are hidden beneath the oil on the current painting. If he doesn’t like a a sketch or a painting he will tear it apart. Francesca has witnessed people fishing his images out of the trash and piecing them together. Gersain has a talent for finding the beauty in images people would generally tend to overlook or even think ugly. He loves the human form and reveals it in all its glory .. fearlessly exploring the fine line between agony and ecstacy. But he can also find the beauty in a worn, torn and abandoned wing-backed chair.

Many find his work so compelling, he is possibly the youngest artist to have sold his work in a Sotheby’s Auction. His paintings hang in important collections throughout Europe.
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Gersain grew up near Medien, Columbia. He has known tragedy. Two of his brothers were murdered. He could be bitter, but he is filled with love, and a lust for life. Francesca noted that she had never seen a more beautiful and breathtaking place or ever been more scared for her life.

When he was four or five he says, “this woman molded my dinner into little animals. Then she had me draw them on the wall. That woman was my mother.” From that moment he knew he wanted to dedicate his life to “capturing forms.”

At twelve, he told his mother of his vision .. a beautifully dressed woman in colorful robes .. a goddess. His muse. His art. In a ceremony, with candles and prayers .. he married her. His mother wept her joy for his discovery.

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Though this bad boy artist is often be surrounded by beautiful women .. not the least of which are his friends and partners Paola and Francesca .. their greatest gifts eminate from within.

If you have photos from the event — we will be happy to post them.  Please send as j-peg with photo id’s and photo bys where appropriate to ethan@starcirclepictures.com