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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

When Truth Actually Is Stranger Than Fiction

One of the cool things about having this blog is that I've become known to lots of new people who didn't know me before. I've traded emails with people from across the country and around the globe. And occasionally, some of them contact me to offer me something free, or ask me to participate in something cool. I've received books to review (and I have one in particular waiting to be read that I hope to review for you guys in the not-too distant future). A few months ago I was asked to judge a short screenplay competition. And last week I got invited to be a judge over the weekend at the HD Fest, a festival of films made on high definition, digital cameras.

I ended up judging one series of four short films, one of which I thought was terrible, one which had a good concept and only adequate execution (in my opinion), and two that I thought were quite good. Perhaps not coincidentally, both were comedic (I think the short film medium lends itself better to comedic subjects, in general). The bigger winner at the awards ceremony was called The Lost Cause, and was an entertaining and bittersweet blend of comedy and touching characterization.

Runner up to The Lost Cause in a number of categories (so much so that it was almost becoming a joke in itself) was my personal favorite of the night, a film called Le Petomane: Parti Avec le Vent (written, produced, and directed by Steve Ochs). In the style of the film itself, the title is a dryly witty, tongue-in-cheek highbrow name for a movie that is actually a long, extended fart joke. (Loosely translated, it means "The Fart Maniac: Gone with the Wind.")

This was really a hilarious film with funny dialogue, and great attention to detail. There were little one-off lines that you could easily miss if you weren't paying attention, but which really added up to even more comedy. And the fact the the film was played largely straight, making it a subtle humor, made the film even funnier overall (as long as you "get it").

But what made it even funnier, in retrospect, was when I started poking around a little bit. Apparently, the character that the film is about was an actual French vaudeville artist (or as some have called him, a "fartiste"). Here's another story on the dude, named Joseph Pujol. Ah, yes. Leave it to the French to create an art form that is actually an arse form.

A quick search on IMDB for Le Petomane indicates that this isn't even the first film project to focus on this unique individual. There have been at least three or four other films about Le Petomane! And according to the trivia one of those film pages (which I can neither confirm nor debunk), both Peter Sellers and David Niven were interested in playing Pujol at some point in their careers, but their agents counselled them against it.

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction. And Ochs really knows how to make the most of a real "stinker" of a joke!

Here is a clip from the film.

And here is their MySpace page.

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Anonymous Eric said...

This begs the question: who is the cultural world-leader of belching? And can it be said that belching is as elevated an art form as the French have made the fart?

Vive Le Petomane!

3:06 AM  
Blogger Emily Blake said...

I don't know if this is the same dude, but there's a French musician who plays the flute through his ass. I love the French. They're so French.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Eric -- I think that would have to be, uhhh, Americans!

Em -- Not the same dude, since this guy died a long time ago. But he played the "anal flute" (my name, not his) as well, so this guy is simply his cultural descendent.

7:34 PM  

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