This So-Called Disaster
In 2000, director Michael Almereyda brought his film crew to San Francisco to document the rehearsal process for the Magic Theater's production of Sam Shepard's play The Late Henry Moss, as directed by the playwright himself. The resulting film, This So-Called Disaster, is partly a study of the magic of theater, as well as a study of the fascinating Shepard, who is nearly universally considered one of the most influential American dramatists of the past century. Shepard and Almereyda's first collaboration came via the former's adaptation of Hamlet, in which Shepard played the part of the Ghost of Hamlet's father. Shepard, in turn, invited Almereyda to film the rehearsal process for his latest play, The Late Henry Moss, a 16-year labor of love for Shepard that relates a fictional recounting of the playwright's own relationship with his late father. Following the cast -- which includes such luminaries as Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Cheech Marin, and Woody Harrelson -- and the crew until the production's opening night, Almereyda observes the minutiae involved in leading up to the first curtain, as well as some private moments with Shepard as he recounts some of his personal history as related to The Late Henry Moss. This So-Called Disaster was included in the programs for the 2003 Rotterdam International Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival.