James Schamus, Ang Lee, and Brokeback Mountain visit U of C

By Ilana Emmett

Focus Features Co-President James Schamus answered questions Thursday night, November 17, at Max Palevsky Cinema. Schamus, who was brought to the University through the University of Chicago Presidential Fellows in the Arts Program, screened a preview of his new film, Brokeback Mountain. The film’s Academy Award–nominated director Ang Lee also participated in the question-and-answer session. Both the film and Lee’s appearance were unannounced, with promotion for the event only mentioning Schamus and a non-specified Focus Features film. Schamus, the film’s producer, and Lee—who have previously worked together on Sense and Sensibility; The Ice Storm; and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, among other films—answered questions for about 40 minutes after the film. The director and producer discussed how the film was conceived (calling it the “easiest” film they ever made) and how they think it will be received. Lee specifically discussed his vision of the film as a love story and his problems with the idea of it as a “gay cowboy” film, as many have described it.