Cinema Legend behind ‘The Cut’ Screenplay Makes Stops in Mass.

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By Alin K. Gregorian

Mirror-Spectator Staff

WATERTOWN — It is a rare day when a bona fide legend of American cinema walks the streets of this town, but one such person, Mardik Martin, did just that at the end of April.

Martin was in the Greater Boston area to attend a screening of the film “The Cut” as part of the Belmont World Film Festival. Martin co-wrote the screenplay of the movie by Turkish-German writer and director Fatih Akin. The film, the first to tell the story of the Armenian Genocide by a Turk, is about an Armenian man searching for his missing daughters during those harrowing times.

Martin gained his legendary status when he started collaborating with New York University friend Martin Scorsese on some of the director’s most important early works, including “Raging Bull,” “Mean Streets” and “New York New York,” as well as collaborating with him on “The Last Waltz,” an iconic rock music documentary.

“We graduated together. We worked on a lot of projects,” Martin said of Scorsese.

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Akin, it turned out, had been a fan of Mardik Martin since his work with the great director.

“Akin wanted me, especially for writing the script. I kept saying no, I am retired. He sent a few pages and I thought it was great,” Martin said.

Robert De Niro, he said, “brought the book [the story which served as the basis for “Raging Bull”] to me. I spent almost eight months working on it and then Marty became involved,” he said.

Martin, who co-wrote the script with Paul Schrader, won a Golden Globe for the film while De Niro won an Academy Award for his portrayal of boxer Jake LaMotta.

Martin is not one for sentimentality or long answers. What was it like writing the scripts for some of the most iconic gems of American cinema? “You just watch a scene and figure out what the other people would do. You put yourself in place of your character,” he said.

As for Scorsese, he said, the director “was a dream to work with.”

At the height of his career, he decided to switch gears and move to California, where he has been teaching at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts since 1990.

Martin was born in Iran and raised in Iraq. He moved to the US at age 17 to attend university. “I grew up in Baghdad and my mother’s father was killed during the Genocide,” Martin said. “I was 17 years old and by myself when I came to New York. I worked as a waiter to pay my way through college,” he said. “I was fascinated by American movies” even back in Baghdad, which, he said, is how he learned English.

He started teaching film at NYU and soon after started collaborating with Scorsese.

“The Cut” is expected to be distributed at the end of July by Strand Releasing.

Martin urged those interested in seeing the film released in the US to go to Strand’s website (www.strandreleasing.com) and let them know that indeed interest is high in having the film released to movie theaters in the US rather than direct to DVD.

 

 

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