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Fast, Cheap & Out of Control

Tuesday, February 15

Tribute to Karen Schmeer — friends of Schmeer in person

STF is pleased to screen this classic work by Errol Morris in honor of the film’s editor Karen Schmeer, who was killed in January 2010 by a hit and run driver in New York City. For the Q&A, friends of Schmeer will discuss her contributions to documentary film and the new editing fellowship established in her name: karenschmeer.com

Errol Morris himself calls FAST, CHEAP & OUT OF CONTROL “the ultimate low-concept movie—a film that utterly resists the possibility of a one-line summary,”

The film interweaves the stories of four obsessive men, each driven to create eccentric worlds of their dreams, all involving animals: Dave Hoover, a lion tamer who idolizes the late Clyde Beatty, and who shares his theories on the mind of wild animals; George Mendonça, a topiary gardener who has devoted a lifetime to painstakingly shaping bears and giraffes out of hedges and trees; Ray Mendez, who is fascinated with hairless mole-rats, tiny buck-toothed mammals who behave like insects; and Rodney Brooks, an M.I.T. scientist who has designed complex, autonomous robots that can crawl like bugs without specific instructions from a human controller. As the film proceeds, thematic connections between the four protagonists begin to emerge. The lion tamer and the topiary gardener look back at ways of life which are slowly disappearing; the mole-rat specialist and the robot scientist eye the future, envisioning creatures that may someday replace the human race.

The film’s style is as adventurous as its subject mater. Working with Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson (Natural Born Killers, Casino), Morris utilizes numerous film formats and resolutions—including black & white, color, 35mm, l6mm, Super 8 and video, as well as stock footage, old movies and cartoons—to create a singularly impressionistic collage of images. Morris’ trademark unblinking interviews were shot with his invention, the Interrotron, which allows his subjects to look directly into the camera lens and, at the same time, have eye contact (through an image projected on a teleprompter) with Morris. The film’s unique vision is echoed by Caleb Sampson’s haunting and powerful score.

Hilarious, sad, absurd, eerie and beautiful, FAST, CHEAP & OUT OF CONTROL is a film like no other. Starting as a darkly funny contemplation of the Sisyphus-like nature of human striving, it ultimately becomes a profoundly moving meditation on the very nature of existence. [Text excerpted from errolmorris.com]

About the Karen Schmeer Fellowship

The Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship is a year-long experience that encourages and champions the talent of an emerging editor. It creates opportunities to help cultivate an editor’s artistry and craft, and expand his or her professional and creative community. To be awarded for the first time in 2011, the Fellowship was created by friends and colleagues of Karen’s and is dedicated to honoring her memory, with the hope to provide for the fellows the kind of care and inspiration that Karen herself provided for so many.

  • Country USA
  • Year 1997
  • Running Time 80 minutes
  • Director Errol Morris