Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Indie Film Director

When I first met Dieter Weihl in the early 90's, he'd just completed his first indie movie "China Lake" about a dysfunctional family reunion in the desert. The film is quirky but nowhere near as quirky as Dieter himself. In those days, Dieter lived in San Francisco's Chinatown above a mahjong parlor nestled between a Buddhist temple and a funeral home. I spent many afternoons with Dieter listening to Miles Davis albums, the acrid smell of greasy dim sum wafting through the windows while Chinese mahjong gamblers clacked tiles in the rooms below.  This scene could have come straight out of Dieter's films...a fish out of water lead character (Dieter himself), an impressionistic jazz score, obscure visuals that evoke isolation and urban discord. Dieter's latest film is a documentary called "The Lucky Man." Dieter follows a group of 70-something Latin dancers who strive to become gigolos to well-to-do Florida women. The film's star is "Cuban Pete," a Bronx-raised Puerto Rican Mambo King who desperately seeks his golden ticket, a woman who can elevate him to a higher standard of living. The film is edgy, complex and sad. Dieter penetrates this strange world of Florida retirees with expendable income and ever-increasing libidos. Through "Cuban Pete," we see how the laws of the jungle and the shrapnel of capitalism continue into old age. Dieter's ever-present camera is non-judgmental and accepting. Like Dieter himself, his movies explore worlds that most of us never knew existed. (5" x 7", black ink print)

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