Media Arts Program
 

Friday, November 2 at 8:30 p.m.

FREE

Catcher in the Rye with Diamonds

poster
Catcher in the Rye with Diamonds (2018, written by Greg Sterlace & Paula Wachowiak, directed by Greg Sterlace)

Catcher in the Rye with Diamonds is a film that explores the connection between the assassination of John Lennon by Mark David Chapman and the book that he called his defense, The Catcher in the Rye. This idea was so compelling that Greg Sterlace and Paula Wachowiak decided to make it as a self-funded underground film with no thought of making money on the project. They saw the cinematic potential of taking a fresh look at The Catcher in the Rye through the eyes of Mark David Chapman, something that had not been done in Chapter 27, the first movie made about the event. Chapman used the book as his reason for killing John Lennon. In his own words, "…I was literally living in the book," as he walked the streets of New York City in early December 1980, imagining himself as Holden Caulfield while he read through the pages of this iconic novel.

Sterlace picked apart the chapters and pieced together what he and Wachowiak felt was an insightful analysis of what Chapman may have read that made him believe his murder of Lennon would complete the 26-chapter book and finalize the text with chapter 27. They didn't stop there. The media of the 1950s-1980s was explored and amalgamated into a collage-like dream that comprised the hypothetical thought processes of the murderer. The result is a wild ride through the mind of a murderer.

Collage cinema is not new, but it is used here as a vehicle to explore a twisted mind. Everyone is a product of what they take in through their senses; we all have bits and pieces of movies and books and music swimming around in our gray matter influencing how we think and what we do. The wish of Sterlace and Wachowiak is that Catcher in the Rye with Diamonds will become a small part of that configuration that is you.


Bruce Adams, Buffalo Spree, 11/5/2018: "An underground art film for Lennon fans. Greg Sterlace has made a total of five movies, but unless you were in the first four, there’s no particular reason to see those homemade, no-budget videos. If that offends Sterlace, this may be of some consolation: with his fifth film—Catcher in the Rye with Diamonds—the auteur has struck gold. Along with his wife and co-screenwriter Paula Wachowiak, Sterlace explores the relationship between Mark David Chapman, who shot John Lennon in New York City in 1980, and the book the assailant claimed he was playing out. Produced over a five-year period, and filmed in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Amherst, Akron, and New York City, this is Sterlace’s [magnum] opus.

"Sterlace focuses on the many strange correlations between the novel and Chapman’s story, with an often-surreal narrative, using a montage of vintage clips, music, acted scenes, and photos. Everything in the film is based on true-life aspects of the crime, or related trivia (including Beatles Easter eggs for hardcore fans).

"Impressively edited by Loretta Michaels (who learned the skill for the project), it’s uniformly well-acted, with John F. Kennedy (yes, that’s his real name) a standout as Chapman[/Holden Caulfield]. And here’s the kicker: Sterlace does not charge to see the film, because all of it was done without copyright consent (particularly problematic with the J.D. Salinger dialogue [and voiceover narration]). One of the film’s rare screenings occurred last Friday at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center. There will be another one December 8th, [2018] (the date Lennon was killed) at 7 p.m. at the Screening Room at the Boulevard Mall. Free admission for all, with live music from Joni Russ half an hour prior.

"Be forewarned; this is not a Hollywood production, nor is it pretending to be, and judging the film by that standard is unfair. This is a work of video art, comparable to what artists like Michael Smith, Claudia Joskowicz, or Ryan Trecartin do. In an article in The Public, Sterlace says, “It’s about Chapman looking back now [from Wende Correctional facility in Western New York] at how he was feeling when he shot Lennon,” Sterlace says. “It’s a double period piece [1980 and 1951] in color and black and white. It’s a Christmas movie that I hope will be a holiday perennial for years to come.”