Portland local Todd Haynes showed up at the Oregon city art museum in late June not to advertise his films — and he definitely has a major one on the horizon thanks to Netflix’s Cannes “May December” pick-up — but to celebrate her peers: namely screenwriter and author Jon Raymond, a longtime collaborator of Haynes’ friend Kelly Reichardt. Raymond also co-wrote the screenplay with Haynes for his acclaimed 2011 HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce” and developed the story for Haynes’ impending gay romance with Joaquin Phoenix.
Haynes, who moved to Portland in 2000, was a keynote speaker at the Portland Art Museum Center for an Untold Tomorrow’s (PAM CUT) Cinema Unbound Awards, which has recognized the likes of Raymond, Guillermo del Toro, Tessa Thompson, Jacqueline Stewart and Portlander Fred Armisen. The lively gala was held not only to raise funds for the museum – one of the largest in the country and now the new home for Guillermo del Toro’s MOMA-launched ‘Pinocchio’ exhibition – but also to kick off WFP’s Tomorrow Theater CUT, set to open in November. The space will serve as the venue for Portland’s East Side Film Show, as well as a stage and screen for XR, performance, dance, live music, animation and drag shows. (The Tomorrow Theater takes the place of what used to be the longtime porn house, the Oregon Theater, retaining many of its architectural and aesthetic quirks.)
Haynes kicked off the evening by presenting an award to Raymond, who co-wrote the screenplays for Reichardt’s many beloved indies about ordinary lives adrift in limbo: “Showing Up,” “First Cow,” “Meek’s Cutoff.” , “Wendy and Lucy,” and more.
“I think of Jon Raymond first and foremost as a novelist and short story writer, but Jon’s work in film over the past 15 years has produced one of the most extraordinary series of incredible amounts of work – and wonderful work – and it has been an incredible honor for me to acknowledge that,” Haynes said of fellow Portland resident Raymond, who along with his screenplays has written six books including novels and short stories. know, Kelly Reichardt.”
“Jon and Kelly are one thing. I feel like I’m kind of a fly on the wall about what’s gone on between this amazing partnership, and so there are things that I’ve observed in the relationship over the years…
Haynes described Raymond as an “incredibly funny and intelligent, beautiful guy. We have become very tight. We got really close, but Jon had never met Kelly. I’ve known Kelly for a million years. She came to visit me in Portland, and Kelly is an incredibly witty, incredibly vibrant and gifted artist, and I’ve introduced Kelly to all my new friends in Portland. Of course, Kelly and Jon were deeply connected and bonded, and before I knew it, there was a short story Jon had written called ‘Old Joy’, and Kelly who made his directorial debut in 1994 hadn’t made a feature film in about seven , eight years old, I started thinking about adapting ‘Old Joy’ into a feature film.
From there, Haynes said, “The two basically just made this stunning debut together as a partnership, shot in Portland, about the intimacy of an old friendship between two men, and the movie was a revelation, and they realized a lot quickly that he had something in common, this kind of sensibility in Jon’s writing and Kelly’s as a director had met, had found a voice, this sense of place. This sense of the individual colliding with his or her environment, and this would continue film after film after film. Soon after, there was a story by Jon called ‘Train Choir’, and I had just finished working with Michelle Williams on another film (‘I’m Not There’),” and so he did the introduction.
Such was the origin of Reichardt’s 2008 Film Independent Spirit Award nominee “Wendy and Lucy,” starring Williams as an itinerant Oregonian whose life is falling apart due to financial hardship on the way to Alaska.
Haynes turned to talk about Reichardt and co-writer Raymond’s 2019 “First Cow,” the bucolic A24 film released to universal acclaim literally just before the pandemic.
“Jon turned to his debut novel and in a record time, an incredibly short amount of time, Jon and Kelly developed this script for ‘First Cow,'” who teamed Reichardt and Raymond with cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt (who took over from Ed Lachman in the new Haynes film “May December”). “The world that was created in this film was so indelible, and this one, too, was about an eye-opening relationship between two men…and before you know it, they were making another film: Kelly’s most recent film, ‘ Showing Up.'” (A24). released that film in the early spring.)
Before presenting the award to Raymond, Haynes concluded: “It’s amazing to think that during all this time Kelly has been making these kinds of Pacific Northwest cinematic stories… without ever having a permanent residence in Portland. I’ve always lived in the Northeast (of Portland). So, Kelly got a place in the Southeast a couple blocks from Jon, and then Kelly and Jon got to go to each other’s houses, hang out, and have dinner. It’s amazing when you have friends like this that you love so much that they keep making one amazing movie after another, in your backyard, watching it unfold.
Haynes returns to the fall awards conversation with “May December,” starring Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman, his first narrative feature since 2019’s “Dark Waters.”