Kaufman defies convention with "Synecdoche"

Fri May 23, 2008 1:30pm EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

CANNES, France (Reuters) - "Synecdoche, New York" is, by a long shot, the hardest title to pronounce at this year's Cannes film festival, and the movie's writer/director Charlie Kaufman wants it that way.

New York is the easy part. Synecdoche, for the record, is pronounced "sin-ek-duh-kee" with the accent on "ek," and people familiar with the U.S. town of Schenectady, New York, should have little trouble saying it. The rest might need help.

"I like titles that are a little difficult because it's kind of counter-intuitive," Kaufman told reporters on Friday ahead of the Cannes premiere of what is his directorial debut.

The title defies conventional filmmaking. Movie studios and theatre owners have found over more than 100 years of cinema that it is easier to attract audiences with an easy title.

But Kaufman, 49, is known for pushing the boundaries of storytelling and being highly successful at doing so.

He penned "Being John Malkovich," about a man who is able to live inside the head of famous actor Malkovich, and "Adaptation," in which a writer named Charlie Kaufman has difficulty adapting a novel into a movie.

Kaufman is no stranger to offbeat titles either. He penned quirky romance "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

"It was really hard to remember, that title. I couldn't remember it for the longest time," he said. "Then, pretty soon I remembered it, and everyone seems to know it now."   Continued...

<p>U.S. director Charlie Kaufman (L) poses with cast members Catherine Keener (C) and Michelle Williams during a photocall for the film "Synecdoche, New York" at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 23, 2008. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier</p>