Made by fans for fans, this feel-good documentary on Bay Area filmmakers goes a little overboard

Fog City Mavericks

on April 29, 2007 by Sara Schieron
Made for Starz TV, Fog City Mavericks delivers its enthusiastic message with a grain of hype-drenched salt. Structured much like an A&E biography, complete with small cliffhangers before each commercial break, the film is a work of fanfare by fans for fans.

A comprehensive survey of the great filmmakers that live and produce out of the city by the bay, Fog City clocks in at just under two hours, moving swiftly from Muybridge's photographic experiments through Francis and Sophia Coppola (with no mention of Roman at all). Documentaries and less mainstream indie fare are largely (if not wholly) ignored to squeeze in as much American Zoetrope drama as possible, and director Gary Leva leaves all discussions of drug abuse to Easy Riders, Raging Bulls .

Meanwhile, the attention Leva pays to George Lucas' contributions to the industry borders on obsessive. Sadly, Mavericks does not endeavor to substantiate the obsession with technological evidence. A less-educated person could easily come away from the film thinking that Star Wars was this last generation's answer to Citizen Kane —and that ILM's technological achievements are minor in the face of the mighty cantina scene.

Cynical as this review may seem, the film's world premiere at, appropriately enough, the 50th Anniversary of the San Francisco International Film Festival carried with it the patina of legend. Though imperfect, Leva's film demonstrates a persistent dedication to the entrepreneurial spirit that emboldened each of the filmmakers he interviews. Lucas, Coppola, Carroll Ballard, John Korty and Saul Zaentz all have war stories, each more fatal than the last, but all those tragedies became mere stepping stones in the larger successes of the filmmakers careers. Each filmmaker was shot down and, in the face of that rejection, moved forward without taking anyone else's advice. Ultimately, their successes were as great as their struggles were painful (again, see George “changed-the-industry-forevermore” Lucas), and every time the filmmakers succeeded in the face of adversity onscreen, the audience responded in the theatre with thunderous applause.

If you let go of the low-rent drama, Mavericks has a good capacity to inspire audiences….and make them rent The Conversation . Just you watch those DVD sales rise.
Distributor: No distributor set
Cast: George Lucas, Francis Coppola, Philip Kaufman, Saul Zaentz and Chris Columbus
Director/Producer: Gary Leva
Genre: Documentary
Rating: Not yet rated
Running time: 90 min.
Release date: TBD
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