As a general rule, The Dissolve doesn’t support Kickstarter or other crowd-funding cinematic ventures, for the simple reason that we don’t want to be invested in a project we’ll one day have to review. (Sorry, Veronica Mars. You raised more than a film released by Warner Brothers probably should have anyway.) But we’re happy to make an exception with a campaign, launched by Oscilloscope Pictures, to digitally restore Kelly Reichardt’s highly regarded, little-seen 1994 directorial debut, River Of Grass. The official reason? Reichardt is one of the best American independent filmmakers working today, and her work deserves wider exposure. The selfish reason? We really want to see this movie.
In excellent films like Old Joy, Wendy And Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff, and Night Moves, Reichardt has explored our relationship to the outside world (and each other) in an impressive variety of ways, from incisive character dramas to a feminist Western to a morally complicated thriller. Produced in 16mm in Southern Florida, the region where she was raised, River Of Grass refers to the Everglades, where Cozy (Lisa Bowman), a bored housewife and mother in a loveless marriage, meets fellow layabout Lee (Larry Fessenden) at a local bar. Cozy’s father is a cop who lost his gun chasing a robber, and as it happens, Lee is in possession of that gun, which goes off when he and Cozy sneak into a pool. Believing they’ve shot someone, the two go on the lam. But how far can they really go?
River Of Grass was a hit at Sundance, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and Best Debut Feature, but it slipped into obscurity, despite Reichardt’s sterling critical reputation. According to the Kickstarter, “time hasn’t been especially kind to all of the [film] elements,” but Oscilloscope plans to work with the Sundance Collection at UCLA to put together a 2K edition and release it on DCP in theaters and on DVD/BD. The goal is a very achievable $20,000, and this being Kickstarter, there are plenty of prizes, including digital and DVD/BD versions of the finished product, silkscreen posters of Meek’s Cutoff and Night Moves, DVD packs of Reichardt’s last four features, and a day at the Oscilloscope recording studio. Here’s Fessenden’s pitch: