photos from Mrya's films
Searching for Paradise

The Boston Globe

The Oregonian

Austin Chronicle

Willamette Week

Portland Mercury

New York Magazine

The Boston Phoenix

Los Angeles Film Festival

Citylink/Fort Lauderdale


Donne e Conoscenza Storica

 

Girls Night Out

The Boston Globe

The Seattle Weekly

Flagpole

The St. Louis Riverfront Times


Transeltown

16th San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Bay Area Reporter

Vision Magazine of Cinema/Television Arts

Fuse Magazine


Butch Patrol

Bay Area Reporter

Press

Searching for Paradise
(35mm, color, 2002, 80 minutes)

- Janice Page
The Boston Globe
"BROOKLINE NATIVE DELIVERS `'PARADISE'
'Don't become too American,' a dying Italian immigrant father warns his teenage daughter. What he means to tell her, though she can't understand it just yet, is: Don't be so literal. Appreciate life's imperfections. Stop searching for paradise and start living as though you've found it.

Brookline native Myra Paci's Searching for Paradise is a deeply personal, somewhat autobiographical work exploring the poignant and sometimes bizarre journey of Gilda Matte, a teenager who can't begin to grieve until she abandons her idealized notions of love. To get there, she'll need to work through a Freudian fantasy that has her obsessing over a movie star to the point of stalking. If that sounds creepy, it's really not; the course she charts is far more sad than scary. Paci's sensitive, multi layered script is helped considerably by some first-rate performances. The little-known Susan May Pratt does a fearless star turn, making the many faces of Gilda natural and engaging. Chris Noth (Big from Sex and the City) makes a credible self-involved celebrity, and ultimately helps the girl discover how to live with loss and disappointment."

- Shawn Levy
The Oregonian
"In Searching for Paradise, writer-director Myra Paci has created a film of delicate emotions and techniques packed with enough muscle and freshness to compare favorably with such recent coming-of-age films as Tadpole and Igby Goes Down.

Susan May Pratt (Center Stage) gives a full-blooded performance as Gilda, a recent Michigan high school grad who loses her father (Michele Placido) and her bearings at around the same time. Unsure of her future plans, she spends her time mooning over a moody actor (Chris Noth) and brooding over the revelation that her dad wasn't as noble as the Dante poems he loved.

Gilda visits her grandparents in New York, ostensibly for Granddad's birthday but really to see if she can find the actor. She does, but only after a flirtation with a Ph.D. student (Jeremy Davies) and learning some hard truths. And, no surprise, meeting her movie star hero isn't exactly as she'd imagined.

Paci's touch is delicate and precise, sometimes floating off for poetic little reveries, sometimes cutting surgically to the most hurtful truths. The ambivalence of tone and content is nicely captured in Pratt's confident performance and her look: sometimes gorgeous and grown-up, sometimes anxious and juvenile. She makes Gilda's boldest adventures plausible, but a daddy's-little-girl aspect gives credibility to her insecurities.

The film has a sense of life lived and observed with care. It makes the future works of its writer-director and star worth looking forward to."

- Marjorie Baumgarten
Austin Chronicle
"Writer-director Myra Paci makes a strong feature filmmaking debut with this understated story about a recent college graduate who deals with her father's death by seeking out the movie star (Noth) with whom she has become obsessed. Armed with only her mini-DV cam, some vague aspirations of getting into filmmaking, and a burning anger caused by her post-mortem discovery of her father's extramarital affair, Gilda Mattei (Pratt) heads to New York to pursue her dreams. Confabulating impressions of her father and the movie star, Gilda adopts the identity of her father's mistress, meets her idol, and discovers that images are merely slippery shards of half-truths. Relative newcomer Pratt delivers a confident performance in this film bolstered by an array of good work."

- Nate Berne
Willamette Week
"Director Myra Paci crafts a structurally innovative film, told sometimes through her own lens and sometimes through Gilda's handheld camera...Pratt herself is shimmering and magnetic. The father-daughter tension is tensely sentimental, and a limo/hotel seduction sequence is both creepy and compelling."

- Katie Shimer
Portland Mercury
"A college-aged Audrey Tautou look-alike deals simultaneously with the death of her father and her downright obsession with an actor played by Chris Noth (the hottie who plays Big on Sex and the City). She buys a video camera to document her father's last days, and also to make tapes of herself to send to the actor. After her father kicks the bucket, she heads to New York for some downtime and then ends up chasing Chris Noth around, pretending to be a journalist. A sweet and surprisingly realistic depiction of young confusion that you can't help but love."

New York Magazine
"We like…Searching for Paradise, Myra Paci’s tale of a beautiful, depressed girl’s obsession with a vain insincere movie star (Chris Noth).”

- Brooke Holgerson
The Boston Phoenix
"Boston native Myra Paci’s film is two parts coming-of-age story and one part Hollywood satire…Chris Noth has great fun playing the self-involved, pretentious star, and Susan May Pratt is touching as a young woman confused and consumed by grief."

- Paul Malcolm
Los Angeles Film Festival
"Few films dare explore the emotional ties between father and daughter with the intimacy and intensity of writer-director Myra Paci’s powerful debut feature.The searing gaze of Paci’s camera never flinches as the aching, vulnerable Gilda opens herself to waves of humiliation and grief. Paci and her razor sharp cast work without a safety net in a frank, uncompromising film about a dreamer who crashes head long into life’s harsher truths."

- C.R.
Citylink/Fort Lauderdale
"Compelling performances and a quirky, true-to-life script distinguish this unusual take on coping with grief and coming of age. When a teenage girl’s beloved father dies, she becomes obsessed with a movie star, played with blasé charm by Noth (Mr. Big on HBO’s Sex and the City). As the besotted Gilda, Pratt is the picture of misdirected passion and youthful awkwardness when she connives to meet Mr. Not-So-Wonderful on a movie set. This is a bracingly original film that offers no easy answer."

Donatella Massara
Donne e Conoscenza Storica
"Fra quelli che ho visto il più bello e interessante è decisamente Searching for Paradise. La regista Myra Paci - bostoniana di nascita - insegna sceneggiatura alla S.Francisco University. E' stata membro del Sundance Institute Directors Lab con il suo primo film - Searching for Paradise, uscito nel giugno 2002 in prima visione al Los Angeles Festival.
Myra Paci ha detto che il suo film è semiautobiografico. E' un cast tagliente interprete del film, come è stato detto; un incastro di attori celebri più che attrici e altre e altri meno famosi collocati esattamente nel posto giusto; come Chris Noth che nel film interpreta il doppio di se stesso al cinema.

La protagonista è una giovane italo americana figlia di un italiano - interprete Michele Placido. Searching for Paradise è un film d'autrice; si avvale di una sceneggiatura attenta, coinvolgente e una ricerca di immagini e interpreti che senza mai esagerare contiene il racconto e rimane impressa nelle spettatrici. E' un film che sollecita una identificazione femminile profonda, allusiva e leggera.

La protagonista è Gilda, porta il nome della figlia di Rigoletto, figlia di un italiano, appartiene per parte di madre alle classi superiori, i nonni sono ricchi intellettuali e vivono a New York. La madre ha fatto un matrimonio romantico. Il padre lo vediamo nei ricordi di Gilda non vecchio però malato e alla fine della sua esistenza. Il padre e la figlia si vogliono molto bene, la ragazza è curiosa, dolce e intelligente; è appena uscita dal Vassar College. Dopo la morte del padre scopre una lettera e si accorge che il padre in Italia aveva una relazione con una giornalista dell'Espresso. La rivelazione della quale la madre era al corrente la sconvolge. Inizia la seconda parte del film quando Gilda decide di mettersi in viaggio dopo un periodo di ospitalità a casa dei nonni. La sua meta è il cinema, vuole diventare assistente producer. Va in Virginia sul set del film dove sta recitando il suo 'grande amore' un attore italo americano, l'interprete è Chris Noth. L'attore che ha girato la celebre serie televisiva di Sex in the city, nel film rirappresenta il suo personaggio di uomo più sexy degli States. Gilda, compagna la sua videocamera, si presenta sul set del film e gli chiede un'intervista facendosi passare per Paola l'amante italiana del padre. L'attore dopo un di battute scopre l'inganno e la invita nella sua stanza. Dopo due tiri di spinello Gilda, fuori di sé, si infuria contro Michael. La ragazza alla fine ritorna a casa e riscopre con la madre tutto il grande dolore della perdita del padre, chiunque sia stato.

Il film è molto bello e innovativo e riesce anche a descrivere una figura di giovane donna complessa e semplice nello stesso tempo, i dialoghi sono reali e mai banali. Le frasi rincorrono le fantasie di Gilda, nei panni di questa donna inaspettata, costretta a pensare a un padre diverso mentre sta soffrendo per la sua perdita. Si mescolano così in lei odio, insofferenza, rabbia, dolore il dialogo muto con il padre che - lei dice - è come tutte le persone morte: intorno a noi, non separate dalla vita. Anche gli altri interpreti sono tratteggiati o con complice simpatia o con indifferenza, ogni donna e ogni uomo però ha le sue affezioni fino al 'divo fuori dallo schermo' umano e affamato assai più che sexy."

Translated Review of Searching for Paradise.
Competition Film at the Milan International Film Festival
"Among the [films] that I saw [at the festival], the most beautiful and the most interesting was without a doubt Searching for Paradise. The director Myra Paci, born in Boston, teaches screenwriting at San Francisco State University and was a fellow at the Sundance Institute Writing and Directing Labs with this, her first, feature film.

The cast is a group of well-known, and less well-known, actors who are brought together in just the right place and time; like Chris Noth, known for his work on the celebrated American television series Sex and the City, who more or less acts the part of himself, one of the sexiest men in the U.S. The protagonist is a young Italian-American girl, daughter of an Italian played by Michele Placido.

Searching for Paradise is an auteur’s film; it uses a well-crafted, emotionally involving screenplay as well as images and actors that without ever exaggerating both carry the storyline and impress themselves upon the spectator. It’s a film that elicits a profound, yet not heavy-handed, sense of identification from the audience.

It is a beautiful, innovative film which succeeds in portraying a young woman who is both complex and simple at the same time. The dialogue is real and never banal and skillfully builds the world of Gilda’s fantasy life. Here we have a girl, Gilda, dressed up in the guise of this unexpected mistress figure, obliged to think of her father in a new and different light as simultaneously she’s mourning his loss. Thus hate, rage, pain, and intolerance for his and others’ foibles are all mixed up together in a silent dialogue with her father. All the characters are treated with complexity and sympathy, even the “male diva on the big screen” – Chris Noth’s character – who is shown to be not just a distant icon for her adoration but to be human, with decidedly human appetites."

Donatella Massara
Donne e Conoscenza Storica
November 2002

Girls
(35mm, color, 1997, 30 minutes)

The Boston Globe (Betsy Sherman, September 1997) "The finesse of director-writer Myra Paci and her cast helps Girls Night Out maneuver along a thorny path for its 32 minutes. One night in downtown Manhattan, a middle-aged man asks two college-age girls up to his loft for a glass of port and a look at his Max Ernst collages. Is this merely the eternal story of the dirty old man? Surprises are in store over the course of the long night. Daniel Von Bargen, a familiar movie and TV villain, here plays a character with some layers. For the girls of the title, Paci makes the most of Anna (Girls Town) Grace’s hard edges and of Rosario (Kids) Dawson’s warmth."

The Seattle Weekly (Claire Dederer, January 21, 1998)
"Among a crowd of hopefuls, a film worth checking out: Myra Paci’s Girls Night Out. It’s the story of two young Manhattan women who are lured up to a gallery owner’s apartment to see his etchings. We expect a morality tale to follow; someone always gets hurt when girls visit strange men. But Paci’s women don’t get used."

Flagpole ( Mary Jessica Hammes, October 7, 1998)
"Poetry, art and raw emotion weave together perfectly into a stunning little story. Claire (Anne Grace from Girls Town)  and Victoria (Rosario Dawson from He Got Game, Kids) are targeted by an older man, Jack (Daniel Von Bargen of Philadelphia) who meets them on a Soho street one Friday night…thus begins an unnerving night that dumps the viewer thick into every conceivable emotion. Van Bargen’s performance is rattling; his attraction to the girls feels alternately slimy and golden. The overall anxiety is heightened by cinematography that is comparable to still photographs. Both Grace and Dawson nail their roles as well, but watching Grace in the throes of hypnosis in one revealing scene is like watching an underwater nature documentary;  you feel like you can’t breathe."

The St. Louis Riverfront Times (October 1997)
"Girls Night Outoffers a compelling examination of the threat of sexual violence [and is] eerily slow, beautifully shot and finely acted….a worthwhile, surprising picture whose patient pacing is rewarded with unexpected and fruitful interactions between characters who, a mere 20 minutes earlier, had nothing to say to each other. In New York City, two young women agree to accompany an older man back to his loft to see his Ernsts; what ends up happening is both less and more than one would expect."

Transeltown

16th San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, 1992
“Myra Paci’s Transeltown is a morbid and strangely tender tale of love in the tradition of David Lynch; it is simultaneously repulsive and seductive – like a lesbian Eraserhead. “

Bay Area Reporter – Kate Bornstein, June 18, 1992
“Only one of the Sweet Dreams program entries was available for preview, but Myra Paci’s Transeltown by itself is worth the price of the whole show (which also includes Su Friedrich’s 1982 But No One and the European lesbian S/M epic Mano Destra). Those who flocked to Naked Lunch but were disappointed by David Cronenberg’s glossing over of the seamier side of William S. Burroughs’ world need look no further than Paci’s Transeltown. Paci is the lesbian answer to Burroughs. Transeltown takes science fiction, horror, erotica and documentary to wonderfully perverse new levels. An androgynous Hispanic central figure is slowly drawn into a world of sex and death. Frightening in its intensity, this film is positively arresting. Necrophilia, sacrificial rites, drag queens, religious mysticism and a celebration of the senses make this a rich cinematic experience."

Vision Magazine of Cinema/Television Arts, Boston Elizabeth Subrin, Fall Issue, 1992
"The archetypal Dante narrative is transported to fin-de-siecle Times Square when a lost, lonely girl drags home the naked body of a genital-less blonde, whose subsequent disappearance compels our androgynous protagonist (played by the director, New York University graduate film student Myra Paci) into a nightmarish, ecstatic world of thresholds – Transeltown. This stunning 16mm narrative short climaxes in a carnivalesque, bacchanalian club scene in which hostile daytime encounters return to party as transgendered, seductive witness/voyeurs. The butch fish-gutter’s leers becomes the Master of Castration’s lures; the pervert pushing the x-rated female anatomy photos shifts to a drag queen offering a film (video footage hurling through a urethral flesh tunnel); the rocking rhythms of a rabbi bent over texts seem erotically charged. Here Dante finds her elusive Mistress of Ceremonies, who reveals the source of her circumcision/clitoridectomy as she lures the initiate under the electric sander. Clearly influenced by Ulrike Ottinger, Peter Greenaway, and with zombie clips from Night of the Living Dead, Transeltown has a lush soundtrack of Eastern lullabies, bird songs, and dissynchronized, treated voice-overs. Paci’s liquid images and detailed characters suggest an investment in transcending gender boundaries not of the Thelma and Louise roadtrip, but rather, an intense exploration of ritual and desire, a fantasy that moves beyond the mystery of sexual union to questions of sexual transformation."

Fuse Magazine, Toronto (Robert F. Reid-Pharr, Winter 1993-94)
Review of  “Mix: The 7th New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film and Video Festival”
"Myra Paci’s… Transeltown (1992), [is] a work that details the search of a boyish-looking woman – or womanish-looking boy – played by Paci herself, for “femininity.” During “her” journey she finds the dead body of a young woman, upon whom s/he immediately focuses her desires, taking it home, cleaning it, feeding it, lying on top of it, until it unexpectedly  disappears, leaving behind only a trail of viscous, pungent “goo.”

Butch Patrol
Bay Area Reporter, June 14, 1990 – Warren Sonbert

Review of 14th San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

"The short, short Butch Patrol is one long breath, over before you know it, in which Myra Paci offers a funky, gritty look at street scenes; strange as it is good. More, please."