Director Kelly Reichardt is responsible for some of the most fearless, uncompromising cinema of the 21st century. Her films Old Joy, Wendy And Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff, and Night Moves are bold, often experimental works of singular vision and beauty, even if that singular vision can sometimes be depressing as hell. (Looking at you, Wendy And Lucy.) As a result, it seems only right that her film debut be rescued from oblivion as Deadline reports that Oscilloscope Laboratories has launched a Kickstarter campaign to digitally restore River Of Grass, Reichardt’s Sundance award-winning first feature.
This is overall an excellent thing because, as Martin Scorsese has been saying for years, too many films are lost forever due to neglect, and the debut film from one of America’s more interesting filmmakers unquestionably deserves to be restored. But while not unusual, it’s also a little odd given that Oscilloscope is a business, and giving a business money so that they can make more money is usually supposed to be an investment, not a donation. Nonetheless, if you consider the goodies (including digital and physical copies of the restored film) you could get for donating to be a return on investment, then this ethical debate is a moot point. We’re just saying, given Reichardt’s reputation and the relatively small sum of money ($20k) in the normal order of movie costs, this seems like something one phone call to Megan Ellison could have resolved. Either way, some of us will be in the theater to see this film on opening day no matter how it gets funded.