The Man Between

by Michael Fox

SF Weekly, January 21-27, 2004

San Francisco filmmaker William Farley premiered two acclaimed features in competition at the Sundance (né U.S.) Film Festival in the '80s -- Citizen, which marked Whoopi Goldberg's screen debut, and Of Men and Angels -- before expanding his focus to documentaries. "Very early on, when I decided to be an artist, I thought it was my license to investigate being alive," he says. "It seems to me being alive encompasses all genres."

His wide-ranging projects-in-progress include Darryl Henriques Is in Show Business, a portrait of an outspoken L.A. comic who's working the comeback trail after his predicted breakthrough never materialized. (Coincidentally, Henriques was in the Bay Area last week performing at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.) For Arianna's Journey, Farley has amassed 60 hours of material he shot of a Milan healer he met in a Manhattan ashram. "She has a vision of her purpose in the world that, if it came true, would put her in the company of Mother Teresa," he declares. Such a claim naturally elicits skepticism -- until Farley discloses that he filmed his subject performing an exorcism on a 20-year-old woman.

The Boston expat's most personal project, however, is a long-gestating screenplay about his childhood that he intends to direct. A funny, sad tale of a father who drank and inadvertently set things on fire, Cooperstown deals with trust and forgiveness. A major L.A. casting company has agreed to show the script to name actors. "The only brass ring that's left for me is to get a film in general distribution," says Farley. "The myth is you have to sell out to do that, and that's ridiculous. You're only in competition with one person, and that's yourself."