Another year another festival! This was my second year getting an Industry Pass with JMC Creative Endeavors, and it was an experience to say the least! I had gotten to see a lot of films, and had some interesting networking opportunities, not as much as I had hoped but nonetheless I still enjoyed my festival.
Some highlights included meeting Jim Carrey after the premiere screening and Q&A of Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - The Story of Jim Carrey & Andy Kaufman Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton. I had walked in to the Winter Garden Theatre and sat in the reserved section, by passing the volunteer's requirement that this was for people with specific passes or credentials. I luckily had my pass facing the wrong way and just maneuvered myself into the section, which over the years I've come to understand that as long as you look and act the part you can get yourself into any situation you want. Also it helped that I was wearing a nice black two piece suit.
Spike Jonze, Chris Smith and Carrey himself introduced the film to a huge applause from everyone in the theatre, and to my surprise right before the film started, Tony Clifton himself - or some form of him in full costume sat two seats to the right of me. A rather humourous moment of divine timing - right place, right time - as my TIFF experiences and universal in-tunement tends to provide me. The film spoke wonders to me and was a beautiful reflection not only on Jim and Andy's career, but also the themes of identity, spirituality, and the universal path we take as individuals and performers. In Jim's case - along with all the recent interviews and media's attention to his current state of spiritual/existential being - it captured a lot of who he was, and who he has come to be, and in some ways, his state of not being. Throughout the film you see behind the scenes footage during the making of Man on the Moon. This footage has been locked up in Jim's vault since the film was released and was only uncovered now to have Spike Jonze produce the doc with Vice and director Chris Smith. It was beautiful to see the interview with present day Jim and how he talks about all of the stories of the past, and how Andy Kaufman tapped him on the shoulder one day when he was sitting on the beach meditating, saying, "step aside, I'll be acting in my movie." What came about was not only a seamless performance by Carrey, but also to see that there was no Carrey, only Andy, and occasionally Tony Clifton. It was uncanny, for anyone who saw the film, but also the cast and crew who had to undergo the long, arduous journey that was dealing with Jim/Andy/Tony. Some strenuous moments were hearing production say, "so Jim isn't exactly here right now," "please Andy!" "please Tony!" while trying to get through to the embodied souls occupying Jim's body. One moment in particular was a phone call with director Milos Forman, Carrey recalls and reenacts, "What are we going to do about Andy and Tony!"
"Well," Carrey responds, "we could fire them both, and I can do an impression, I'm really good at impressions."
From silence, "No...I'll keep them, I just wanted to hear Jim's voice again."
How entertaining and exhausting it must have been to be anyone on that film!! To have to witness and experience the incarnated Andy Kaufman, even Carrey talked about, "how far is taking it too far? How far would Andy of taken it?" This film brought out so much emotion but also so much beauty and life into the soul of essentially a misfit that was perceived by the world as a brilliant performer, entertainer and soul of pure joy, this cascaded by the haunting truths he kept deep inside about his cancer slowly eating away at him. The documentary opens up the conversation of how actors can delve so deeply into a character, that, as Carrey had said in recent interviews, "you realize your own character is pretty thin to begin with and there is this separation of 'Who is Jim Carrey?" "
The film literally began to speak to me when being interviewed in present day, Carrey says, "You're given the name Joel, which means the absoluteness of God, and you're given parents, an identity," it was a trip to hear him say that name - and though the connection could have been through him playing Joel Barish in Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - the fact that he could have said any name to ground his point he chose mine was a sort of "aha! " moment from the universe.
If this wasn't magical enough, after the Q&A where he also pointed out into the audience at me - which was probably more so to the Tony Clifton sitting next to me - before acknowledging Clifton himself to have the audience applaud, Jim stayed at the lip of the stage and shook everyone's hand. After shaking hands with Clifton himself and giving him a card of mine, I ran to the front of the stage and stood to await my moment with Jim. He came up and I shook his hand and said he was the reason I became an actor and how grateful I was to share his energy. I gave him one of my playing card business cards, and said I wanted to give you the Ace of Hearts, he smiled and said, "oh cool this is your card!" as he continued to share time and energy with the other sea of fans in his midst. But by making that face to face connection, gripping his hand and sharing eye contact I can see the joy in the wrinkled lines of his face, the bright light of energy that radiated from him, the same feeling I got every time I saw one of his films on TV or in theatres. He continued to carry that gravitas in his presence, and I was ecstatic that I, and everyone else at the theatre were able to be graced by the gift of his presence.
Spike Jonze had confirmed that the film will be released on Netflix so the world can witness such beauty of Andy and Jim, Jim and Andy, and the connection made by this brilliant performer, the internal struggle he experienced and the reflection of the paths we all undergo on this universal journey through life.