Theodore Collatos' 'Dipso': Turning point for Berkshires filmmaker
PITTSFIELD -- Indie filmmaker Theodore Collatos has come home to the Berkshires bearing a gift -- his new low-budget made-in-the-Berkshires feature film, "Dipso," which is being shown through Monday at Berkshire Museum's Little Cinema.
Collatos lived in the Berkshires, off and on, during his childhood and then full time with his dancer wife, Carol, from 2000 through 2009.
The couple left the Berkshires to resettle in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, where Collatos' wife could be closer to the African- American dance company with whom she performs -- Harlem-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre.
Collatos took with him two uncompleted films -- "Move," a documentary about Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, and "Dipso," which Collatos and his actors, who doubled as his crew, filmed in and around Pittsfield in only 18 days, with the aid of a state grant and the collaboration of Solar System Studio.
Now, after attention-grabbing showings of "Dipso" at two European film festivals, Collatos is eager to show his movie to a hometown audience.
In a sense, Collatos suggested in a telephone interview from Brooklyn, "Dipso" is a kind of film coming of age.
Known chiefly for what he characterized as "playful" short experimental films -- which have been seen on PBS, IFC Channel and at several film festivals worldwide -- Collatos says he's turned a corner with "Dipso," a full-length fiction narrative about a newly released ex-con who is trying to re-build his life and realize his dream of becoming a stand-up comic.
"In a lot of ways, I consider this my first film," Collatos said. "It feels like my first film statement; both these films ("Dipso" and "Move") make a statement."
In a news release, he cites as inspiration Charles Burnett's "Killer of Sheep," John Huston's "Fat City" and Peter Bogdanovich's "The Last Picture Show."
Over the phone, Collatos talks about "Dipso's" "stillness and elegance."
"In shooting the film, we (Collatos and two-time Emmy Award-winning cameraman Thomas Lowe) played with longer takes which gives the film a strange calmness and stillness (that belies) a seething rage underneath," Collatos said.
Not long after its completion, Collatos submitted "Dipso" to the 27th EntreVues Belfort Festival du Film in France where it was shown in competition alongside big Hollywood studio and well-financed indie films.
"Our very small film wasn't given much of a chance," Collatos said. Indeed, "Dipso" didn't win any prizes at Belfort, but it did, Collatos said, create a stir, especially when it was championed online by a man Collatos described as an influential, online film critic.
"It was an amazing experience," Collatos said.
"Dipso" did win "best film" at Athens Film & Video Festival a few months later.
Now, Collatos says, he has a deal for "Dipso" to go to Video on Demand early next year.
"We'll probably have a big screening in New York just before that happens," Collatos said.
"Dipso" comes to Little Cinema one week after the screening of another low-budget-made-in-the-Berkshires indie feature, "The Secret Village."
"I work for a film distributor so I know very well what the scene is for true indie films these days," Collatos said. "It's very hard. Little Cinema is one of very few venues that will show genuinely independent films. That's rare these days."
Collatos is a busy man. Since its premiere at Harlem Film Festival, "Move" has been traveling the international film festival circuit and is scheduled for showing at Jamba International Film Festival in Durham, South Africa this year.
In addition to his day jobs at boutique film distributor, Factory 25; as a producer for lululemon Athletica and as a trailer editor for Reality Entertainment, Collatos is working on the scripts for three fiction narratives and is in pre-production for a documentary he is planning to shoot in Brazil.
His dreams are simple: to make films; more than that, he said in an email, "to not have dreams and (simply) live life."
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