Portland, September 25th. The historic Hollywood Theatre on Northeast Sandy Boulevard was buoyed by a special screening and artist talk from a couple of Hollywood heavyweights. Doug Whyte, Executive Director of Hollywood Theatre, James Franco, Gus Van Sant, and Justen Harn, Director of Programs and Community Engagement helped create the fundraiser. (Photo credit, John Keel) Van Sant and Franco were on hand for two sold-out screenings of My own Private River–a film Franco made from outtakes of Van Sant’s landmark film, My Own Private Idaho.
According the the non-profit organization, after casting Franco in the award-winning film, “Milk” (2008), Van Sant showed him the dailies and other footage that he had shot years earlier for My Own Private Idaho, featuring River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves as street hustlers in Portland, Oregon. Franco described being mesmerized by Phoenix’s “uninhibited acting” in this unreleased footage. “I humbly asked Gus if I could…cut something together, and if he didn’t like it, I would never show anybody.”
“I thought it would be interesting because it took us six months to cut the film together, and James was going to do it in a month,” explained Van Sant, who makes his home in Portland. My Own Private River consists largely of shots of Phoenix’s character, Mike, woven into a portrait; Franco’s edit captures the gifted actor at his most emotionally expressive and physically dynamic. Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993.
An acclaimed actor, Franco is also actively engaged in performance art, painting, video, and installation art. He has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Clocktower Gallery, New York, and Peres Projects, Berlin. The Hollywood Theatre is a non-profit organization whose mission is to entertain, inspire, educate and connect the community through the art of film while preserving a historic Portland landmark.