My piece on Schamus' Q&A at the San Francisco International appeared on GC Daily; here's an excerpt:
Film producer and screenwriter James Schamus was in San Francisco to accept the Kanbar Award, a fairly recent prize SFIFF gives to writers who have had distinguished careers. (Other recent honorees include Paul Haggis, Robert Towne and Peter Morgan.) I attended the Q&A with Schamus that was then followed by a screening of the new director's cut of Ride With the Devil (now available on DVD from Criterion), which Schamus scripted for director Ang Lee. Like any good screenwriter, he answered with wit and steered himself back on point whenever he got off on a tangent, except when he knew said tangents were the real prize.
The talk was moderated by critic, scholar and teacher B. Ruby Rich, who knew Schamus in New York during the '80s when the guest of honor was starting out (he joked that when they met, his hair looked more like her full, curly hair). So there were references to those early days, the timeline stretching further back than his first forays into filmmaking; Schamus earned a PhD from Berkeley, writing a thesis on Carl Theodor Dreyer, and specifically the Danish auteur's seminal work Gertrud. Schamus joked about his "esoteric devotion to the single-most obscure Scandinavian formalist failure," and both he and Rich worried if they had alienated the audience by spending too much time chatting about Dreyer. (I suspect more of the crowd were aware of him than they realized, and I actually loved hearing about this connection.)
Read the rest on GC Daily >>