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    April 16th, 2009

    In A Dream opens today at the Ritz at the Bourse in Philadelphia. The Inquirer featured director Jeremiah Zagar on the cover of the Magazine section for a story by Steven Rea called Family Film.

    An excerpt:

    NEW YORK – When Jeremiah Zagar was a chubby, awkward kid (his description – he’s neither anymore), he and his father, Isaiah, marched from their house on South Street to the Ritz to watch Terry Gilliam’s eye-popping fabulist fantasy, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

    Afterward, Jeremiah insisted they stay and watch it again. And again.

    Two decades and innumerous movie marathons later, Zagar has applied that same obsessive passion to his own films. In a Dream, his documentary feature debut, opens tomorrow at the Ritz at the Bourse after spending a year on the festival circuit, nabbing prizes from San Francisco to Woodstock, N.Y., Austin, Texas, to Philadelphia. In August, it premieres on HBO.

    Read the the whole article. And now an excerpt from the Inquirer review, also by Steven Rea:

    Isaiah Zagar’s art is all over Philadelphia’s South Street corridor. And his restless spirit – and painful secrets – are all over In a Dream, a stunning, deeply personal documentary portrait by the muralist’s youngest son, Jeremiah Zagar.

    Mixing old home movies, wonderful animated sequences derived from Isaiah’s art, and scenes of Isaiah at work, of Julia in agony, and of their eldest son, Zeke, grappling with his own demons, In a Dream captures a family in a state of implosion.

    The Zagars’ lives are laid bare, in broken bits, like the ceramic Isaiah uses for his art. And they come together in In a Dream in a mosaic of sadness and beauty, rage and insight.

    Jeremiah and his folks were also interviewed yesterday by Marty Moss-Coane on WHYY’s Radiotimes. You can hear the whole interview here.

    Philadelphia & San Francisco Reviews

    April 15th, 2009

    In A Dream opens tomorrow in Philadelphia at the Landmark Ritz at the Bourse. The reviews are starting to trickle in and here’s what Shaun Brady at Philadelphia City Paper had to say:

    City paper grade: [A]

    Jeremiah trained his camera on Isaiah at his mother Julia’s urging, and even in the early going manages to capture both his warmth and the darker shadings of someone who others may dismiss as an eccentric…Jeremiah strikes a delicate balance between empathy and honesty, exposing the family’s darkest secrets — his brother’s drug addiction, his father’s memories of molestation, attempted suicide and madness — but never losing sight of their basic humanity.

    Read the rest. And if you want to go more in-depth, you can read Brady’s feature Truth Be Tiled from last year’s Philadelphia Film Festival issue of the paper.

    The film opens tomorrow at The Roxie in San Francisco as well and this is from the San Francisco Bay Guardian:

    The Zagars aren’t anybody’s idea of a standard-issue nuclear unit, but this quietly engaging portrait transcends train-wreck fascination because for all their quirks, they are functional — close, loving, and supportive. Also, because Isaiah’s epic mosaics of tile, paint, and embedded detritus are so remarkable, you’ll want to book the next flight to Philly to see them first-hand.

    Read the whole review.

    The Chosen Film

    April 15th, 2009
    Extended through April 23rd!

    Extended through April 23rd!

    First things first: In A Dream has been extended at the Cinema Village in New York City through April 23rd. Thank you to everyone who came out and made the opening weekend a success. Please spread the word and let your friends know the film is still in theaters through the weekend and into next week.

    Next: In A Dream, as some of you may know, is about a Jewish family. The Jewish press have been paying attention and a review by George Robinson was published today in The Jewish Week.

    My late mother-in-law had a saying: “Who knows what goes on with couples?”

    She would have loved “In a Dream,” a new documentary now playing at Cinema Village. The film traces the lives of a seemingly happy Jewish artsy-bohemian family, as told by the youngest son, filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar. And two-thirds of the way through the film, everything – and everyone – starts to fall apart. Mind you, in a film in which all the family members seem unusually proud of dad’s eccentricities (which include being a victim of sexual molestation as a boy and a stint in a mental hospital as a young husband), the seeming disintegration is less than totally unexpected.

    What is a surprise, though, is how warm, funny and, finally, affirmative “In a Dream” turns out to be.

    And lets not forget the great Jewish Exponent article from Michael Elkin the other week:

    The Moses of mosaics, with South Street his Sinai, Isaiah Zagar, zigging while other artists zag, has also broken a commandment or two.No burning bushes to bemoan, but a number of burned bridges by an artist whose creativity has also cratered his own life, beset by beauties and beasts, and brushes with the bathetic, as well as greatness.

    All of which suffuses his son’s moving movie — and reverie of remembrances — “In a Dream,” a commanding and iconic inquest into the heart and art of his famously familiar father, whose mosaics molt and meld Philadelphia history from every shingle and roof from which they hang.

    “In a way,” says son Jeremiah, “Philadelphia has always been his Promised Land.”

    And he lives up to his own promise as fine filmmaker in this stunning work, already the recipient of a cavalcade of acclaim and applause, as well as festival awards — and seven years in the making.

    Read the rest. And remember, In A Dream opens this Friday, April 17th in Philadelphia, San Francisco & Athens, GA. More soon…

    The Books

    April 13th, 2009

    Fifth in a series of posts from Jeremiah Zagar about In A Dream’s music.

    Paul de Jong & Nick Zammuto are THE BOOKS

    The Books have been, by far, the largest musical influence on In A Dream. I cut our first fundraising trailer to their song Getting the Done Job and in the finished film we use a total of six Books tracks plus an original song composed for the film by Nick.

    It’s important to note that every track is innately cinematic due to the fact that each are built from samples of VHS videos that Nick and Paul find in Salvation Armies across the country. It is wonderful to see them live because they play their music along with their videos; it’s like a concert and a movie in one. You can feel their songs in your guts and in your bones, just listen to 8 Frame or That Right Aint Shit and you’ll understand.

    Last Thursday, Jeremy and I had the pleasure of seeing The Books play Columbia University’s Miller Theatre the night before the New York premiere of In A Dream. In the middle of their set, The Books stopped the show to play the film’s trailer. Nick then asked the whole audience to go see it at the Cinema Village and my heart melted like a little kid.

    I was fortunate enough to meet Nick and Paul three years ago in Philadelphia after a concert they played at the University of Pennsylvania. Although I was too timid to approach them after the show, fate stepped in when the very next day Jeremy and I saw them walking past my parent’s house on South Street.

    “Hey! The Books, The Books!” I shouted. They stopped in their tracks and Jeremy and I ran to them and introduced ourselves.

    “We’re using your music in our movie. It’s about my father. He makes giant mosaic murals just up the street, come on we’ll give you a tour.”

    Perhaps they were a little hesitant, but they came anyway, loved it, and three years later we have the best damn score around!

    Buy their albums on TheBooksMusic.com or iTunes and then watch Classy Penguin from their last release, a wonderful DVD called Playall.

    YouTube Preview Image

    Gay City News Loves IN A DREAM

    April 12th, 2009

    An In A Dream rave by Gary M. Kramer from yesterday’s Gay City News:

    “In a Dream,” a remarkable documentary about the Philadelphia artist/muralist Isaiah Zagar, belongs in the company of “Capturing the Friedmans” and “Tarnation,” two other excellent real-life “home movies.” Although this film does not have the criminal pathology elements of “Friedmans” or the sexual tensions of “Tarnation,” filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar’s portrait of his father battling demons past and present offers its own astonishing originality.


    Lovingly made, and featuring a haunting score that draws viewers into the beautiful images, “In a Dream” provides a heartrending portrait of a flawed but fascinating artist, father, and husband. This film is not to be missed.

    Read the rest of the review. The film is currently playing at the Cinema Village in New York. It opens next Friday, April 17th in Philadelphia, Athens Georgia & San Francisco.

    Latest screening schedule is below:

    New York, NY
    The Cinema Village
    Starting Friday, April 10th
    RSVP on Facebook

    Philadelphia, PA
    Landmark Ritz at the Bourse
    Starting Friday, April 17th
    RSVP on Facebook

    San Francisco, CA
    The Roxie
    Starting Friday, April 17th
    RSVP on Facebook

    Athens, GA

    Starting Friday, April 17th
    RSVP on Facebook

    Bozeman, MT
    The Procrastinator Theatre
    Thursday, April 23rd – Tuesday, April 28th

    Los Angeles, CA
    Laemmle Music Hall
    Starting Friday, April 24th

    Santa Fe, NM
    Center for Contemporary Arts
    Starting Friday, May 1st

    Salt Lake City, UT
    The Tower Theatre
    Starting Friday, May 8th

    Friday, April 10th: IN A DREAM Released in NYC

    April 10th, 2009

    Pre-Order Tickets for Opening Weekend: 12:50p, 2:30p, 4:20p, 6:15p, 8:00p, 10:00p

    22 East 12th Street, New York, NY

    RSVP on Facebook and then invite your friends to come too!

    Thumbs UP from The New York Times:

    In a Dream belongs to the dubious subgenre of the aggrandized home movie — but in this case, what a home!

    It’s obvious why the filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar would feel compelled to address the life and emotional legacy of his father, Isaiah, an artist and hardcore hippie gripped by manias of creativity and more destructive compulsions. Briefly institutionalized after a spell of unhinged ranting and several attempts to rip off his own genitals, Isaiah returned to (relative) normalcy after the birth of his first son, Ezekiel.

    Bursting with vivid home movies and loving appreciations of Isaiah’s artwork — frenzied drawings and monumental mosaics in tile and mirror, many of which now beautify his Philadelphia neighborhood — In a Dream abounds in visual pleasure.

    Isaiah Zagar’s obsessive mosaic work lends his son both a colorful subject for his camera and a ready-made metaphor for their tumultuous family narrative: the fracturing of relationships and the effort to assemble the pieces into new forms. Isaiah speaks frankly about his troubled past and rocky relationship to his long-suffering, deeply patient wife, Julia. Ezekiel’s struggle with addiction and Isaiah’s lack of fidelity shatter the family’s bohemian bonhomie.


    Not convinced? Watch the trailer.

    The Nerve

    April 8th, 2009

    Jeremiah sat down recently with Sarah Clyne Sundberg from Nerve.com for an in-depth interview. Here’s an excerpt:

    What was it like to ask about your father’s sexuality?
    It was exciting. It is important to see your parents as human beings and an exciting process for a child to go through. Parts were terrifying. It is important to know that your parents are as fragile as you and that you can achieve what they can achieve. Or less. They are your strength and your weakness.

    Had you seen the old Super-8 footage before?
    I’d never seen any of it. My father said, “I have seventeen books of slides in the closet” or “I think there are a couple of movies about us from the ’70s that people made.” He has 40,000 square feet [of art] that people see every day. But he has warehouses full that no one will ever see. He has notebooks with drawings stacked up to the ceiling. I can’t even explain to you. There are stacks and stacks of rolls of paintings.

    Read the whole interview.

    Kelli Scarr Reprise

    April 8th, 2009

    Listen to new music from Kelli Scarr & friends and then go see her perform @ Zebulon on Sunday, April 19th.

    Explosions in the Sky – So Long, Lonesome

    April 6th, 2009


    Part four in a series of posts from Jeremiah Zagar about In A Dream’s music.

    In the spring of 2002 my friend Nathan Caswell and I were editing our short student film The Unbelievable Truth in the tiny bedroom of my Cambridge apartment. One of the most difficult scenes to cut was the first. In it, a father leaves his wife and child. Although the scene was incredibly heavy, it felt sparse and muddy. That is until we discovered Explosions in the Sky.

    Nate, who is one of the most brilliant filmmakers and editors I know, found out about the band on some underground music website and we were struck immediately by how utterly cinematic their music was. We put their song Remember Me As A Time of Day into the cut and it saved the film.

    The next night we showed the scene to my friend Mike Reich who starred in the movie and is an incredible filmmaker in his own right (watch his music videos, visit his site videothing).

    “That music is awesome. Who is it,” Mike asked.
    “They are a band from Austin called Explosions in the Sky.”
    “No way, dude, I think they’re playing a show across the street right now at TT and the Bears.”

    Nate and I rushed out of the house, bought tickets and caught the last two songs of one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Just outside the club on our way home we spotted one of the guitarists sitting on the curb between a couple parked cars smoking a cigarette.

    “Your show was amazing,” I stammered.
    He turned around, looking sweaty and exhausted and muttered something like “thanks.”
    “We’re cutting your music to our movie.”
    “Cool, send us a copy when it’s done.”

    We did and since then I have used an Explosions in the Sky song in almost every film I’ve made including the song Memorial in Coney Island 1945, which was a short test project for In A Dream.

    So Long, Lonesome from In A Dream is off Explosions in the Sky’s latest album and is my personal favorite track on the record. It gives the movie the kind of emotional climax one rarely sees in documentaries and in many ways makes the film what it is.

    Buy Explosions in the Sky’s music.
    See them live.

    P.S. Special thanks goes to Jeremy from Temporary Residence Limited who has been an ally and supporter ever since we showed him Coney Island back in 2005.


    April 3rd, 2009

    In A Dream begins its ever-expanding theatrical run next week at the Cinema Village in New York. It starts FRIDAY, APRIL 10TH and will be playing every day until the 16th, perhaps a week longer or more if demand is high enough.

    Tickets are on-sale now and we suggest you pre-purchase some today: 12:50p, 2:30p, 4:20p, 6:15p, 8:00p, 10:00p. We look forward to seeing you all there.

    In the meantime, 34th Street Magazine from the University of Pennsylvania recently profiled Isaiah Zagar in their March 19th issue. It’s a very enlightening article that offers some background on what you’ll see in the film.

    An excerpt:

    Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens sneaks up on you. Walking past 1020 South St., you understand that although “garden” might be a misnomer, you’re not sure what else to call the place. While the epicenter of the project is located here, the mosaic murals cover 33 city blocks with multicolored tiles, thousands of mirror shards, bricks, bicycle wheels and arches made of glass bottles the color of sapphires and Heineken. It’s overwhelming — at once obviously broken and yet perfectly assembled. Stand in the Gardens and you become Alice, falling down the rabbit hole in the phantasmagoric world of artist Isaiah Zagar’s creation.

    One Friday afternoon in February, Zagar is at a private residence at 627 Kamball St. doing grout work on a mural in the backyard. At first glance he comes off as a cross between Doc from Back to the Future and Allen Ginsberg circa 1969 — he’s got a wild beard, a reflective, rambling way of speaking and a tendency toward constant motion. For a man who is almost 70 years old, Zagar moves with surprising agility. He refuses to sit still for an interview.

    Read the rest and check back soon for part four in our series about In A Dream’s music.