Hollywood’s finest rabble-rousers gathered with Brooklyn’s haute-hipster crowd at Soho House to watch the premiere of Sun City Picture House, the inspiring documentary of the building of the first movie theater in Haiti since the devastating earthquake of 2010. The film debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival as part of the Shorts: One for All series with a favorable response, and what better way to celebrate such success than with a few drinks?
Cut to the Bulgari and Vanity Fair after-party at the Soho House library, where the party was already in full swing by the time The Observer arrived. DJ Bouji spun tunes such as the Bangles, Violent Femmes, Mad Con and the Police in the dimly lit room. Guests ate mini cheese flat breads with duck pate and drank copious amounts of Champagne in the ever-crowded bar. The library was accessorized with photos from Haiti during the building of the theater, and the Bryn Mooser and David Darg film played on a continuous loop that partygoers watched over and over as they spoke about the film. Co-hosts Olivia Wilde and Paul Haggis worked the room, chatting with guests such as Samantha Mathis, Justin Long and Kelly Bensimon. Ms. Wilde, newly separated from her husband, filmmaker Prince Tao Ruspoli, sported a new fringe and wore a black floor-length A.L.C. dress as she stood on a glass table toasting the picture. “I’m so proud to be a producer of Sun City Picture House,” Ms. Wilde said. “From its conception, I wanted to be a part of it.” Ms. Wilde, daughter of veteran producers Leslie and Andrew Cockburn, has admitted in the past that her family background has given her a “strong journalistic streak.”
She shortly turned the mike over to Mr. Mooser, who quipped, “I’ll take the chair just because I’m scared of that table.”
The film, which follows a young Haitian man’s quest to complete the theater in only four days, is a testament to the Haitian will to survive, as well as the power of film.
“The big, important thing was to say, ‘We want to build you a community center that also works as a school and is also a movie theater, and we’re gonna do it and do it really fast, like totally gonzo style,’” said Mr. Mooser, a musician and artist who was once engaged to actress Maria Bello.
“Bryn and I were both involved in the construction of the theater and the production of the movie,” said Mr. Darg, Mr. Mooser’s partner in filming. “The whole film was made in the evenings after long days of doing relief work.”
Turning the tables on the filmmakers, we asked, what are their favorite films?
“I really love The Thin Red Line, a Terrence Malick movie,” Mr. Mooser said.
“It’s like the most beautiful movie that’s ever been made in the history of mankind,” Mr. Mooser continued. He then became thoughtful and said, “But really, it’s really quiet and beautiful and extraordinary, so that movie inspires me.”
“Trains, Planes and Automobiles is my favorite film of all time,” Mr. Darg said. “Not one of the cinematic greats, but still.”
Looking to modify his answer, Mr. Darg turned to his wife, Naomi, for assistance.
“What’s my favorite movie?” he asked.
“Oh, Trains, Planes and Automobiles. It depicts his life.”
“David is always showing movies, he carries a projector with him,” said Operation Blessing International’s president, Bill Horan. “I’ve seen him project cartoons on tent walls in Darfur, and the kids always go crazy.”
Other partygoers volunteered, free of shame, old favorites as their favorite movie.
“My automatic response is a movie I loved as a child,” said Mr. Mooser’s girlfriend, actress Dawn Olivieri. “I always say I’ve never rented a movie this many times in a row so I have to say it’s my favorite movie-it’s this animated movie called The Last Unicorn. I was in love with this movie.”
Mr. Haggis, despite being an Oscar-winning filmmaker for Crash and Million Dollar Baby, declined to play the game. “Oh, I don’t do that because I’m always wrong.”
Mr. Horan volunteered his favorite film, though, by his own admission, it dated him.
“Dr. Zhivago, but I’m an old man,” Mr. Horan said with a laugh. Ben Stiller cut in to tell us how impressed he was with the work Mr. Horan and Operation Blessing has done.
At the end of the night, Mr. Mooser returned to The Observer to give us his card and make one more point: “In many ways, Tribeca is the perfect fit for Sun City Picture House, because this festival was built out of a disaster. It rose out of the ashes, and our movie theater grows out of those same ashes, you know?”
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