The new film by directors Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke, Queens of Country, joins their previous two films, The Heart is a Drum Machine and Blood Into Wine, as Sundance Film Festival rejects. Is that news? Not really (I mean, could you imagine if we wrote about every film rejected from Sundance?) but, at the same time, when filmmakers get rejected for their third time and then release a press release about said failure… well, come on, I just HAD to share it. Lemons into lemonade, baby! From the official press release:
Directors Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke announced today that their film Queens of Country was rejected by the Sundance Film Festival. For the third year in a row films produced by the co-directing partners have gotten word from the famed film festival that that their work just wasn’t quite good enough.
In 2008 the festival rejected Page and Pomerenke’s documentary The Heart is a Drum Machine, a star studded film that centered upon Carl Sagan’s Golden Record, which was sent into space on the NASA Voyager mission, as a framing device to talk about the nature of music. The film starred Jason Schwartzman, Juliette Lewis, John Frusciante, George Clinton, and many others.
“This was strike one for us and what would soon become a familiar sting,” says Pomerenke.
2009 brought another painful rejection by Robert Redford’s festival. Tossed to the side this time was Page and Pomerenke’s film Blood Into Wine, the story of Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan and his winemaking efforts in the deserts of Arizona. Surprisingly the film was well reviewed and was one of the most widely distributed documentaries of 2010, playing in over 125 markets theatrically in the United States alone.
“Strike two. Ouch!” Page says of the Blood Into Wine rejection.
The directors thought they had their best chance this year with Queens of Country. The film stars Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls, Party Down) as a woman living in a fantasy era long gone and obsessed with old time country music stars. The prettiest woman in a small Arizona town, Jolene Gillis (Caplan) finds a lost iPod filled with music that speaks to her sensitive heart. Jolene is convinced the owner of the iPod is her soul mate and she is thrust into a sexy, heartwarming and hilarious adventure of mistaken identities, ATVs, line dancing competitions, kidnappers, time machines and doppelgangers.
Alongside Lizzy Caplan, Queens of Country stars Ron Livingston (Office Space, Band of Brothers) , Joe Lo Truglio (Role Models, Pineapple Express), Matt Walsh (The Hangover, Due Date) and Maynard James Keenan (Tool, Blood Into Wine). The film is in the final stages of post production and the filmmakers are looking forward to the opportunity to be rejected by other film festivals. As a testament to the filmmakers sense of humor they created a spoof of the viral video Worst Wedding DJ/Keyboard cat starring Queens of Country actors Caplan, Livingston and Truglio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-MPRXhS9ok.
“Queens of Country was, you guessed it, strike three. Epic fail!” says Pomerenke.
“We would like to thank the programmers of the Sundance Film Festival for their steadfast and constant stance that Christopher and I are not very good at what we do.” Page says from the Arizona office where the filmmakers are gearing up for their next comedy feature. “We live in wild times and it’s nice to know that there is some consistency in the world. Sundance has given us not only a holiday rejection letter tradition but also the gift of knowing exactly where we’re at as filmmakers and clearly we have a lot of work to do to get better. Christopher and I welcome the challenge”.
“We would also like to take a moment to congratulate the other filmmakers who got in this year,” adds Pomerenke. “We are in pre-production on our next project titled XANDER and we look forward to being rejected by Sundance Film Festival again next year.”
Page and Pomerenke are currently casting XANDER and are slated to begin shooting in their home state of Arizona on Feb. 28. XANDER is the story of a new age music star (think Yanni meets David Copperfield with a splash of The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne) who has to enroll in sex rehab to save his marriage and career. A world famous puppet making company has signed onto the project to design and build aliens for the film.
Page and Pomerenke chose puppets as half their cast for XANDER because they believe the puppets will take the inevitable Sundance rejection better than real life actors. The directors also make the connection between their failures and the underdog mentality of their home state.
“Being from Arizona we are used to being knocked around and overlooked”, says Ryan Page.
“We feel we are making interesting films and we’re way outside the Hollywood filmmaking community. Arizona is our home and we are inspired by the desert wasteland that sits outside our houses,” Pomerenke continues. “As long as we’re allowed to make the films we dream up we are happy”.
Page adds, “The actors took a giant risk with us on Queens of Country and we feel that ultimately that decision will be justified creatively.”
Queens of Country will be released in 2011. XANDER is scheduled for a 45-day shoot beginning Feb. 28 and is the biggest budget production to date for Page and Pomerenke, financed and produced by fellow Arizonans.
Queens of Country
Twinkle Cash Company/Semi Rebellious Films
Starring Lizzy Caplan, Ron Livingston, Joe Lo Truglio, Matt Walsh, Maynard James Keenan, Wanda Jackson
Producers: Chris “Topper” McDaniel, Christopher Pomerenke, Ryan Page, Connie Hoy, Jason Stall
Written by Serene Dominic, Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke
Directed by Ryan Page & Christopher Pomerenke