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Hal Hartley / Filmmaker

June 21, 1998|Steve Hochman

Parallels between self-described "marginal" New York filmmaker Hal Hartley and the unlikely poet Simon Grim of his new film "Henry Fool" are easy--right down to awards, with Hartley taking this year's top screenplay honor at Cannes. But where Grim is reclusive, Hartley, 38, having built underground buzz with micro-budget predecessors "Flirt" and "Amateur," is branching out. His first play, "Soon," premieres July 30 in Salzburg.

CANNES DO: "The significance of [the award] is realizing that people like Martin Scorsese, Winona Ryder--a really diverse group of people on the committee who know how to make movies--thought my screenplay was worthy of mention. It's easy to feel out on the margins when you make movies like I do."

MATTER OF SCALE: " 'The Full Monty,' that's not a little movie. That's a great way to sell movies lately--'This nice little film, these poor people made it. . . .' But it's got major actors from the British Isles and was a big production."

NEW TOYS: "I'm very excited about digital technology. Been shooting a lot of video lately. Made a film for European TV that they allowed me to shoot with a Sony Handicam. Called 'The Book of Life' and stars Martin Donovan and [rock musician] P.J. Harvey. Beautiful."

BOYCOTT WATCH: " 'The Book of Life' is part of a series of 10 one-hour movies made about the last day of the century. But its subject matter might hinder broadcast here. It's made with a lot of respect, but it does have Jesus Christ wondering who the [expletive] these Christians think they are anyway, so it might get some people upset."

HARTLEY, HAL HARTLEY: "It would be great if every year the new James Bond movie would be made by a radically different filmmaker. One year Woody Allen, the next Nora Ephron, or me or Jim Jarmusch or Godard. That's what the James Bond genre needs."

HONORED ELDERS: "I've been really impressed by the older people in cinema lately. Robert Duvall's movie, 'The Apostle,' that was a great film. I liked Takeshi Kitano's film 'Fireworks,' and of course recent Godard work. These guys are in their 60s and really hitting home runs."

DREAM STAR: "I'd love to work with Harrison Ford. I like the kind of acting he does, like the classic American actors, the Jimmy Stewarts and Henry Fondas, just a manner, a graphic quality. You know he'll never do a movie with this weird New York marginal filmmaker. But it would be so great."

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