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Wellspring Readies Acclaimed ‘Tarnation'

15 Mar, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Watching your Mom sidelined with mental illness can be tough — especially if her symptoms mirror those of your own dysfunctional youth.

That was the reality that filmmaker Jonathan Caouette faced when he returned home to Houston in 2003 to reconstruct the documentary Tarnation for $218 on a Macintosh computer.

Wellspring Home Entertainment May 17 (prebook April 13) will release Tarnation ($29.98 DVD).

The 88-minute digital montage of home movie clips, newspaper images, letters, photos, telephone answering machine recordings and third-person voice-over is as much documentary as catharsis.

The DVD includes director commentary from Caouette, extended footage, two unreleased video tracks, poster galleries and a theatrical trailer.

Getting Caouette to comment for this story proved elusive — almost mirroring his fractured existence.

“My land line here is completely messed up, and my cell phone is running out of minutes,” Caouette said. “So there is really no place I can go right now.”

Ranked as one of the top 10 films of 2004 by numerous national newspapers, Tarnation was named best documentary by the National Society of Film Critics and was an official selection at the Sundance, Cannes, New York and Toronto film festivals.

“It's probably going to be one of our biggest titles of the year on video,” said Kim Rubin, VP of marketing for Wellspring. “We have really strong sales expectations for it.”

Wellspring, after acquiring the title at Sundance, last year released Tarnation in a limited number of theaters nationally generating revenue of less than $600,000.

But Rubin said it's likely to find a greater audience on video.

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