In 1968 William Greaves shot five "screen tests" for a nonexistent film entitled Over a Cliff, but only the first, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One, featuring the crew as well as the actors, became a finished film-until now. With a little financial help from Steven Soderbergh, Greaves got the footage from Take 2 out of storage and, with Steve Buscemi operating one of the five cameras, shot an update (the "1/2"), reuniting actors Shannon Baker and Audrey Heningham, the interracial couple who appear at the end of Take 1, with psychodrama coach Marcia Karp. First there's Take 2, never-before-seen footage shot in 1968, and then the script picks up 35 years later-the bickering couple of Take 2, now happily divorced, reunite in Central Park to reminisce and catch up with each other on the past 35 years. Seemingly little has changed. Greaves is still provoking his crew (with more than a little help from Karp), bystanders are still hanging around, and a cop is still asking to see a permit, but this time Greaves' cast and crew have another obstacle to overcome-the 2003 New York Marathon, which threatens to overwhelm their little film shoot. Soundman Jonathan Gordon, now bearing an uncanny resemblance to Marlon Brando, returns to instill dissent in the young crew. But are today's youth less likely to question authority? Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2 1/2 makes unflattering comparisons between the Vietnam era and our own, turning a simple film shoot into an unlikely metaphor for our country's current complacence.
Independent filmmaker and long-time Actors Studio member William Greaves is best known for his groundbreaking
documentaries on the African-American experience. Prominent among these are the two-hour PBS special Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey, narrated by Sidney Poitier, and the multi award-winning Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice with
Toni Morrison. However, during the course of a decades-long career, he has worked in a variety of formats and styles. His numerous awards include an Emmy for the pioneering public television series, Black Journal, which he executive-produced and co-hosted and, the prestigious Career Achievement Award for 2004 from the International Documentary Association.