In a recurring poetic image, 17-year-old Regina Diane Nicholson swings between heaven and earth on a breathtakingly high cliff by the sea. Reggie is a tomboy struggling with terminal illness, her parents and her dream of making a film. She impresses us with her loving, strong personality and wisdom beyond her years, as well as her morbid sense of humor. When director Henry Corra met 17-year-old filmmaker Regina Nicholson at a film festival, he agreed to help her make a feature film. What developed over nearly two years is a powerful friendship and poignant relationship between Reggie and Henry. He became her collaborator, friend and defender in her fight to find artistic and personal freedom. When Reggie turns 18 and can make decisions on her own, things become even more intense. This film is a poetic fairytale about love and death, holding on and letting go, one that invites us to discuss the relationship between filmmaker, subject and family. An eclectic mix of images with the intimacy of a video diary or home movie, it is filmed both by Henry and by Reggie and supplemented by their text message exchanges, images from her favorite movies, and fairytale-like scenes with songs that together form a heartwarming, but also heartbreaking and controversial ode to Reggie’s life.
When I met 17-year-old filmmaker Regina Nicholson at a film festival nearly three years ago and heard her sad story, I vowed to help her make a film about her short life. Reggie was an obsessive cinephile who was battling a terminal illness and whose mission in life was to make one feature movie before she died. What developed over nearly two years is a powerful friendship and poignant relationship between Reggie and me. I became her collaborator, friend and defender in her fight to find artistic and personal freedom. The film oscillates between the brutal realities of her daily life and the magical films swirling inside her head, as it chronicles Reggie’s struggles to realize her dream, while her choices—and days—become fewer and fewer. It’s a raw and unexpected story about the commitment of the two of us to art, poetry, care and the potential beauty of every moment together, to the very end.
Press & Reviews
“MOVING. IMPRESSIONISTIC. UNSETTLING. Watching it feels like judging a last will and testament.”
Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times, February 24, 2015
The Last Years of a Budding Filmmaker
“Searingly brave and beautiful.”
Pamela Cohn, Filmmaker Magazine, February 18, 2015
Coming of Age While Dying
“Pitched like a home movie but crafted with fine, poignant sensibilities.”
Diana Clarke, Village Voice, February 24, 2015
Bizarre and Wonderful Doc Farewell to Hollywood Offers Strange Heartbreak
“Farewell to Hollywood is a heart-wrenching story.”
Film Society of Lincoln Center: 9 documentaries to watch for in 2014
“An ode to life, loss and moviemaking…a powerful…gripping story.”
Zack Sharf, IndieWire, October 20, 2014
Henry Corra Discusses the Controversy and Artistry Behind ‘Farewell To Hollywood’
“Packs an emotional sucker punch.”
Simi Horwitz, Film Journal, February 24, 2015
“A provocation from beyond the grave. A remarkable narrative [with] passionate energy.”
Eric Kohn, IndieWire, November 23, 2013
Moving Or Offensive? Henry Corra’s New Cancer Documentary ‘Farewell to Hollywood’ is Both
“Reggie was hell-bent on this film being made. To her, film was synonymous with life.”
Jenny Platt, Life in LA, March 14, 2015
“The movie paces back and forth between Nicholson’s joy with the filmmaking process, and the harsh realities of her cancer.”
Alex Cohen, Take Two, NPR, March 13, 2015
“As Nicholson valiantly deals with her condition, and, tragically, with her emotionally unstable, mightily religious parents … Corra is there with the camera and soft-spoken words of encouragement.”
Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, March 12, 2015
End-of-life ‘Farewell’ enters uncomfortable moral territory
“Portrays in arresting images a feisty teen’s struggle with cancer and her elusive quest to find peace with her parents….the agenda… is for people to stop talking and for the images to start.”
Will Tizard, Variety, November 20, 2014
Docus Explore Uncharted Realms of Reality
“Regina Nicholson leaves an affecting cinematic testament.”
John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter, February 24, 2015
A dying teen wants to fulfill her filmmaking dream
“Henry Corra and Regina Nicholson have created a new type of filmmaking.”
Amsterdam Diaries, C. Seligo, November 27, 2013
“This is an intensely fascinating film. I can’t get it out of my mind. It conveys so perfectly what it’s like to be young — the pain of separating from one’s parents, its urgent necessity, the need to make art in the world, and how it changes everything to find — for the first time — someone who really understands you.”
Sheila Heti, writer (“How Should a Person Be?”)
Henry Corra is an award-winning filmmaker and Sundance Institute Fellow, best known for pioneering Living Cinema, his unique style of nonfiction. His films include Umbrellas (1994), George (2000), Same Sex America (2005), the Emmy-nominated NY77: The Coolest Year in Hell (2007) and The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan (2010). They have been exhibited worldwide in theatrical venues and broadcast by outlets such as HBO, Showtime, Logo, CBS, PBS, VH1, Arte and Channel 4. His work has also been shown in museum and cultural venues internationally, including MoMA, the Louvre and the National Gallery of Art. He has also done episodic TV projects for broadcasters, including MTV, VH1, Bravo, and the Sundance Channel. In addition to his film work, Corra has been singled out as one of the foremost directors of “real-people” commercials in America. Corra’s films are characterized by a deep and intense relationship with his subjects, his painterly eye, and his novelist’s sensibility. In this unscripted approach, Corra emotionally embeds himself in his subjects’ stories, in which no one knows the outcome. His subjects are complicit in the not knowing, and become collaborators with Corra in the creation of the films based on their lives. Corra strives to achieve a lightness, or magical dimension, as a counterbalance to the often blunt brutality of the real-life situations they depict. While it is an impossible task, it is the tension between this striving for lightness and the weight of his subjects’ experiences that creates the emotional depth and lyrical power of his work.
Reactions to Henry’s work: “The more you know, the more you care. The more you care, the more your heart will break.” – Ron Wertheimer on George, “New York Times.” “Instantly one of the most moving and utterly compelling documentaries of recent years.” – Collin Parker on The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan, “Examiner.” “Highly original and structurally flawless…an ambitious documentary about an ambitious project.” – Howard Feinstein on Umbrellas, “Variety.”
Regina Diane Nicholson (b. 2/25/93, d. 3/1/12) was a South Pasadena–based filmmaker and student. Her short film Glimpse of Horizon, about her mortality, won AFI’s TEENDOCS competition and has been featured at the Silverdocs Documentary Festival and the Heartland Film Festival. Her last film, Farewell to Hollywood, is a feature made in collaboration with Henry Corra.
Henry & Reggie: A collaboration for the ages
Renowned filmmaker Henry Corra and co-director Regina “Reggie” Nicholson treated one another as movie stars to create Farewell to Hollywood, a documentary chronicling the last years of Nicholson’s life. Corra sat down with digital journalist Kate Gardiner to address some of the more innovative and controversial aspects of their creative partnership.
How did you first meet Reggie?
We were at the Silverdocs Film Festival in 2010 when I saw Reggie and her mom across the room. I looked at my producing partner Jeremy Amar and said, “Look at that girl, she’s amazing. I want to know who she is.” I introduced myself. They asked me if I would be interested in working on a film about Reggie’s battle with cancer. Reggie said it was her life’s mission to make a feature film before she died. I said yes. The rest is history.
What made you want to make this film?
I knew that Reggie was a superstar and that her’s was an incredible story of Shakespearean proportions. There was some trepidation in the weeks following our first meeting. I didn’t know if I had it in me to take on a story with such a potentially tragic outcome – the death of a young person – so I procrastinated. Her mom sent me a few emails asking about the project and then I got a brief email from Reggie asking, “Are you still interested in making a movie with me?” My heart melted. I wrote back immediately, “Of course I am. We will be out there soon.” Within two weeks we were in California and after two days of exploratory filming there was no looking back.
Describe your working relationship with Reggie?
She asked me if I would mentor her. I said, “I’m willing to collaborate with you but I will not mentor you.” I will treat you as an equal artist and she said, “that’s even better” and I said it will be a film by you and me. “You are just the person I’ve been looking for,” she laughed. Later I asked her if she was willing to make a movie where she didn’t know the ending? This was a revelation to her, I think. And it was this “not knowing” and discovery process that was at the heart of our shared creative effort together. We had a very rigorous working relationship. We developed a limitless language that served us well and helped spark the very best ideas.
See the rest of the interview here.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MCKINLEY NOLAN
(2010, New Video, www.mckinleynolan.com)
(2009, with Eben Bull)
NY77: THE COOLEST YEAR IN HELL
(2007, vH1, Emmy-nominated)
SAME SEX AMERICA
(2005, Showtime, with Charlene Rule)
(1995, ARTE, with Grahame Weinbren)
CHANGE OF HEART
(1992, PBS/NOVA, with Kate Hirson, Blakeslee Award for Medical Journalism)
When Henry met Regina at a film festival,
he was so touched by her story that he vowed to help her make a movie about her life.
Farewell to Hollywood | front
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Events & ScreeningsUPCOMING:
Los Angeles: Laemmle Theaters
Columbus, OH: Gateway Film Center
Winchester, VA: Alamo Drafthouse
Corra Films is an acclaimed creative nonfiction studio based in the heart of downtown New York City.
A full-service production company established in 1994, Corra Films is a passionate ensemble of New York’s most innovative talent, under the direction of filmmaker and Living Cinema pioneer Henry Corra. We’re storytellers at heart who believe in the power of individual experience and remain committed to exploring new narratives in nonfiction filmmaking.
We have produced eight feature films and dozens of shorts that have screened at prestigious film festivals and venues including Berlin, IDFA, SXSW, Silverdocs, Full Frame, DOC NYC, Tribeca, the Louvre, MoMA, and IFC Cinema. Many works have also aired on networks including HBO, Showtime, PBS, Arte and Channel 4, among others. We were honored to be nominated for two Emmy Awards and shortlisted for the Independent Spirit Award. Having produced countless work-for-hire projects and collaborated with the top agencies and brands throughout the advertising world, we take pride in our proven ability to produce groundbreaking and timeless content.
© 2016 Farewell to Hollywood. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.