If somebody were to explain the concept to me, it would sound so simultaneously populist and intellectual that I'd swear it was a European fancy: a short film being made about a new literary novel, screened at a huge movie theater, and followed by a discussion between local literati, with live music. But this isn't happening in Stockholm or Barcelona, but right here in Portland, where the idea was born, as well as 50 other cities throughout the country.
On Wednesday, June 13, Powell's will present Ian McEwan: On Chesil Beach, the first feature in their Out of the Book film series. The movie is based on McEwan's new novel, On Chesil Beach, a restrained, psychological tale about two virgins approaching their 1962 wedding night. Directed by Doug Biro, whose background is in music videos, the film collages footage of McEwan reading passages from the novel; evocative shots of the English countryside; insights from Nan Talese and leading book critics; the author discussing his latest work; and a surprisingly funny run-in with the British media. The result is a very smart and engaging little film that, in the end, is a fantastic promotional tool produced and paid for by Powell's.
"When people talk about books not speaking to the so-called 'ADD generation,'" says Dave Weich, producer and creator of Out of the Book, "it's not the books that are lacking—the promotions and packaging are lacking. Reading an interview isn't the most engaging activity in the world, and it's certainly not the most social. Readings are fine—many are great—but they're usually dry, and you just see people reading for 20 minutes then taking 10 questions from the audience. With Out of the Book, we're trying to take better advantage of technology, and create a more compelling, social way of talking about books and interacting with authors.
"We wanted to create something more like live music with this," says Weich. "Entertaining—not just another old-fashioned conversation between two intellectuals."
After the screening of Ian McEwan: On Chesil Beach, Weich will discuss the book and film with author Marc Acito, writer and editor Lee Montgomery, and Inessa from KINK FM. Also, musician Laura Gibson will perform a short set.