2020 Festival Dispatch #4 Show Notes

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Description
The fourth 2020 festival dispatch of the Catalyst and Witness podcast, devoted to exploring the films and format of the New York Film Festival, hosted by Ryan Swen. This covers the third week of the 2020 New York Film Festival, and features guests Forrest Cardamenis, Soham Gadre, and Jason Miller.

0:00-1:01:03 – Part One
1:01:04-2:06:23 – Part Two

Housekeeping

  • Hosted by Ryan Swen
  • Conceived and Edited by Ryan Swen
  • Guests: Forrest Cardamenis, Soham Gadre, Jason Miller
  • Recorded in Roswell, New York City, and Washington D.C. on Zoom H4N and Sennheiser Microphones and MacBook GarageBand and Audacity and iPhone, Edited in Audacity
  • Podcast photograph from Yi Yi, Logo designed by Dan Molloy
  • Recorded October 11, 2020
  • Released October 17, 2020
  • Music (in order of appearance):
    • Our Sunhi
    • El Sicario, Room 164
    • El futuro

October 2020 Capsules

Beginning
Seems to fully inhabit the material and the supernatural, which isn’t to say that the two continually coexist at all moments within this. Moreover, religion here is less the constant, forbidding presence that one would expect for a film all about the subjugation and degradation of women, and more a force that can be siloed off, that can be ignored for a time in one’s own solitude. For what Dea has internalized is an intensely focused, and just plain intense, approach to compartmentalization as evoked by composition. The innovation is less in the actual frames themselves, which tend closer to a de rigeur arthouse style (albeit even more beautifully executed than normal), and more in the context created around them, where a potent cocktail of quotidian and nightmarish tones and narrative throughlines is evoked at all times, even when the film focuses on a much different aspect of Yana’s life. By design, Beginning is a slippery film in multiple senses, where a brief respite in the woods can turn into something far more worrisome just by the elongation of the same shot, and where a pivotal location revisited ten minutes later can radically recontextualize an innocuous activity. Perhaps what’s strongest about this film is its deft balance of clear thematics with a certain inscrutability: ultimately motivations matter less in the face of such a distinct mood, which never lets up and only grows more thorny, more piercing.

2020 Festival Dispatch #3 Show Notes

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Description
The third 2020 festival dispatch of the Catalyst and Witness podcast, devoted to exploring the films and format of the New York Film Festival, hosted by Ryan Swen. This covers the second week of the 2020 New York Film Festival, and features guests Forrest Cardamenis, Jeva Lange, Jason Miller, and C.J. Prince.

0:00-1:07:45 – Part One
1:07:46-2:07:51 – Part Two

Housekeeping

  • Hosted by Ryan Swen
  • Conceived and Edited by Ryan Swen
  • Guests: Forrest Cardamenis, Jeva Lange, Jason Miller, C.J. Prince
  • Recorded in Roswell, New York City, and Toronto on Zoom H4N and Sennheiser Microphones and MacBook GarageBand and Audacity and iPhone, Edited in Audacity
  • Podcast photograph from Yi Yi, Logo designed by Dan Molloy
  • Recorded October 4, 2020
  • Released October 7, 2020
  • Music (in order of appearance):
    • Rebels of the Neon God
    • Court
    • 2+2=22 [The Alphabet]

2020 Festival Dispatch #2 Show Notes

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Description
The second 2020 festival dispatch of the Catalyst and Witness podcast, devoted to exploring the films and format of the New York Film Festival, hosted by Ryan Swen. This covers the first week of the 2020 New York Film Festival, and features guests Forrest Cardamenis, Max Carpenter, Susannah Gruder, Jeva Lange, Chloe Lizotte, and C.J. Prince.

0:00-1:05:18 – Part One
1:05:19-2:06:11 – Part Two

Housekeeping

  • Hosted by Ryan Swen
  • Conceived and Edited by Ryan Swen
  • Guests: Forrest Cardamenis, Max Carpenter, Susannah Gruder, Jeva Lange, Chloe Lizotte, C.J. Prince
  • Recorded in Roswell, New York City, Toronto, and Camden on Zoom H4N and Sennheiser Microphones and MacBook GarageBand and Audacity and iPhone and Abelton Live, Edited in Audacity
  • Podcast photograph from Yi Yi, Logo designed by Dan Molloy
  • Recorded September 27, 2020
  • Released September 29, 2020
  • Music (in order of appearance):
    • Law of Desire
    • Stuff and Dough
    • Profit motive and the whispering wind

September 2020 Capsules

Days
Even more than most of Tsai’s films, Days is in effect all about the body and its interaction with the surrounding environments, and while Lee Kang-sheng is deservedly getting much of the attention, it’s just as important to recognize exactly what Anong Houngheuangsy is doing here. It’s tempting to liken him to Lee in youth, and indeed at certain moments they appear quite similar even in the present day. But his situation, and thus the way he carries himself, is completely different. He lacks a Miao Tien or a Lu Yi-ching to surround him, cook for him, and govern the way he lives, and thus even when he appears more innocent, less prone to the acting out or pseudo-prankster behavior that Hsiao-kang indulged in, he has a responsibility to himself to uphold. His existence is thus one of a certain discipline, something that Kang never had and, as a result of his infirmity, can never have. It would be too much to suggest that Anong is some alternate vision, a way of life that Kang could have had, but Tsai’s renewed fascination, his fetishistic interest in the way this young, well-built man moves about his affairs, has its longing resonances that go well beyond the second half’s unity and separation. May we be able to continue watching alongside them.

2020 Festival Dispatch #1 Show Notes

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Description
The first 2020 festival dispatch of the Catalyst and Witness podcast, devoted to exploring the films format of the New York Film Festival, hosted by Ryan Swen. This covers the announcement of the 2020 main slate, and features guest Jason Miller.

0:00-1:28:41 – Part One

Housekeeping

  • Hosted by Ryan Swen
  • Guest Jason Miller
  • Conceived and Edited by Ryan Swen
  • Recorded in Roswell and New York City on Zoom H4N and Sennheiser Microphones and MacBook GarageBand, Edited in Audacity
  • Podcast photograph from Yi Yi, Logo designed by Dan Molloy
  • Recorded August 13, 2020
  • Released August 19, 2020
  • Music (in order of appearance):
    • Ex Libris: The New York Public Library
    • Viola

August 2020 Capsules

Dirty Ho
Both Wang and Ho face two fights that test different aspects of their kung fu abilities before they come together for the finale, and while Wang’s, cloaked in niceties and explicitly designed to be as dazzling as possible, deservedly get all the love, Ho’s feel equally vital to Lau’s framework. Whether it’s the “cripples” or the imagined con artists, he fights a succession of enemies, each with a different ability that in turn forces the untrained Ho to adopt a complementary kung fu style, often complete with otherwise unseen weapons, makeshift or not. That these are with more obviously “different,” even dangerously stereotypical foes who then reveal themselves to be phonies, speaks to the unbridgeable divide between Wang and Ho, separated as they are by class and wealth. Yet they share a sense of purpose, a talent for disguises, and a drive for fighting perfection, and even if it’s only for the span of a film, it’s more than enough to unite them.

16th (1978): “A Thousand and One Details” Show Notes

Table of Contents: Description, Corrections/Clarifications, Housekeeping, General, Main Slate, Ephemera, Recurring Directors, Recurring Countries, One-Time Directors, Debuts/Final Features, Festivals/Oscar Nominees, Events/Shorts/Panels, Discussions By Length, Specifications

poster

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Description
The sixteenth episode of the Catalyst and Witness podcast, devoted to exploring the films and format of the New York Film Festival, hosted by Ryan Swen. This covers the sixteenth edition of the festival in 1978, and features special guest Evan Morgan, critic and co-host of the dormant Snakes & Funerals podcast.

0:00-18:45 – Opening
18:46-1:13:12 – Part One [A Wedding to The Green Room]
1:13:13-2:10:51 – Part Two [Camouflage to Get Out Your Handkerchiefs]
2:10:52-3:16:50 – Part Three [The Left-Handed Woman to Elective Affinities]
3:16:51-4:22:38 – Part Four [The Shout to Violette Nozière]
4:22:39-4:28:57 – Closing

Corrections/Clarifications

  • Due to the lack of New York Times archives from this period, much of the information in these show notes is conjecture.
  • The episode’s title comes from a quote in A Wedding, due to the absence of New York Times headlines.

Housekeeping

  • Hosted by Ryan Swen
  • Special Guest Evan Morgan
  • Conceived and Edited by Ryan Swen
  • Recorded in Los Angeles and Seattle on Zoom H4N and Sennheiser Microphones and MacBook GarageBand, Edited in Audacity
  • Podcast photograph from Yi Yi, Logo designed by Dan Molloy
  • Poster by Richard Avedon
  • Recorded June 7, 2020
  • Released July 26, 2020
  • Music (in order of appearance):
    • A Wedding (opening night)
    • The Green Room (another favorite)
    • Spies (favorite of the first section)
    • Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (favorite of the second section)
    • Like a Turtle on Its Back (favorite of the third section)
    • Perceval le Gallois (favorite of the fourth section)
    • Violette Nozière (closing night)

General

  • Selection Committee: Richard Roud (program director), Richard Corliss, Roger Greenspun, Molly Haskell, Charles Michener, Tom Luddy (West Coast consultant), Mary Meerson (retrospective consultant)
  • Location: Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall
  • Prices: 2.50, 3, 4, 5.50; for opening and closing night 5, 7, 10
  • Films seen for the podcast:
    • Ryan
      • Seen before podcast watching period: Spies
      • Seen for the podcast: All available; Spies rewatched
      • Favorite films: Perceval le Gallois, Spies, Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, The Green Room, Dossier 51
      • Least favorite films: Bloodbrothers, The Apple Game
      • Catch-Up Corner: Langlois (8th), Yudie (12th), Fear of Fear (14th)
      • Rewatch Round-Up: Band of Outsiders (2nd), Two English Girls (10th)
    • Evan
      • Seen before podcast watching period: Spies, Dossier 51, Perceval le Gallois
      • Seen for the podcast: The Green Room, Camouflage, Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, The Left-Handed Woman, Despair, Like a Turtle on Its Back, The Shout, American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince, Violette Nozière
      • Favorite films: Spies, Perceval le Gallois, Despair
      • Least favorite films: The Left-Handed Woman, Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, The Shout
  • Discoveries of the festival: Like a Turtle on Its Back, Despair, The Green Room, Get Out Your Handkerchiefs
  • Unavailable films: CIA: Case Officer, Manimals, Elective Affinities, Movies Are My Life

Main Slate

Opening Night: A Wedding (1978, Robert Altman)
September 22, 9:00 {Avery Fisher Hall}
Released 1978
Retrospective: Spies [Spione] (1928, Fritz Lang)
September 23, 1:00
Released 1929
Skip Tracer (1977, Zale Dalen)
September 23, 3:00
Never released
The Green Room [La Chambre verte] (1978, François Truffaut)
September 23, 3:00
Released 1979
Camouflage [Barwy ochronne/Protective Colors] (1977, Krzysztof Zanussi)
September 23, 6:00
Never released
Bloodbrothers (1978, Robert Mulligan)
September 23, 9:00
Released 1978
“Styles of Radical Will”
They Are Their Own Gifts (1978, Lucille Rhodes & Margaret Murphy)
CIA: Case Officer (1978, Saul Landau)
With Babies and Banners: Story of the Women’s Emergency Brigade (1978, Lorraine Gray)
September 24, 1:00
Never released/Never released/Released 1979
Newsfront (1978, Phillip Noyce)
September 26, 6:15
Released 1979
The Apple Game [Hra o jablko] (1977, Vera Chytilová)
September 26, 9:30
Released 1980
Get Out Your Handkerchiefs [Préparez vos mouchoirs] (1978, Bertrand Blier)
September 27, 9:30
Released 1978
The Left-Handed Woman [Die linkshändige Frau] (1978, Peter Handke)
September 28, 9:30
Released 1980
Dossier 51 [Le Dossier 51] (1978, Michel Deville)
September 29, 9:30
Released 1978
Despair (1978, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
September 30, 1:00
Released 1979
Like a Turtle on Its Back [La tortue sur le dos] (1978, Luc Béraud)
September 30, 6:00
Released 1981
Gates of Heaven (1978, Errol Morris)
Also: Manimals (1978, Robin Lehman)
September 30, 9:00
Released 1980/Never released
Elective Affinities [Le affinità elettive] (1978, Gianni Amico)
October 1, 2:00
Never released
The Shout (1978, Jerzy Skolimowski)
October 1, 9:00
Released 1979
Perceval le Gallois [Perceval the Welsh] (1978, Eric Rohmer)
October 3, 9:30
Released 1978
American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince (1978, Martin Scorsese)
Also: Movies Are My Life (1978, Peter Hayden)
October 5, 6:15
Released 1990/Never released
Retrospective: The Miracle of the Wolves [Le Miracle des loups] (1924, Raymond Bernard)
October 5, 9:30
Released 1925
Closing Night: Violette Nozière (1978, Claude Chabrol)
October 8, 8:30 {Avery Fisher Hall}
Released 1978

Ephemera

  • New Currents in Japanese Cinema: a collaboration between the Film Society and the Japan Society showing five independent Japanese films in the afternoons at Alice Tully Hall, $2 for each film, $7.50 for full series

Recurring Directors
Key: films in this iteration excluding shorts/omnibus/retrospectives, films in this iteration including, films in the festival up to this point excluding, films up to this point including, number of gala spots (when applicable), number of festivals with more than one film shown (when applicable); † indicates their last appearance, fraction in parentheses indicates number of features shown from oeuvre, features released in the eligible timeframe, features in oeuvre

  • François Truffaut: 1/1/7/7/4
  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder: 1/1/7/7
  • Claude Chabrol: 1/1/6/6/1/1
  • Jerzy Skolimowski: 1/1/5/5/0/2
  • Eric Rohmer: 1/1/4/5/2
  • Martin Scorsese: 1/1/4/4
  • Krzysztof Zanussi: 1/1/4/4
  • Gianni Amico: 1/1/3/4†(3/15/15)
  • Robert Altman: 1/1/2/2/1
  • Vera Chytilová: 1/1/1/2†(1/21/21)
  • Bertrand Blier: 1/1/1/1
  • Errol Morris: 1/1/1/1
  • Fritz Lang: 0/1/0/2†(2/0/41)

Recurring Countries
Key: films in this iteration excluding shorts/retrospectives, films in this iteration including, films in the festival up to this point excluding, films up to this point including, number of gala spots (when applicable)

  • USA: 7/9/56/73/3
  • France: 6/7/95/114/15
  • West Germany: 2/2/27/29/1
  • Italy: 1/1/35/40/3
  • UK: 1/1/20/22/1
  • Czechoslovakia: 1/1/12/14/3
  • Poland: 1/1/11/11
  • Canada: 1/1/5/6
  • Australia: 1/1/1/1
  • Germany: 0/1/0/3

One-Time Directors

  • Raymond Bernard (retrospective)
  • Luc Béraud
  • Zale Dalen
  • Michel Deville
  • Lorraine Gray
  • Peter Handke
  • Peter Hayden
  • Saul Landau (short)
  • Robin Lehman (short)
  • Robert Mulligan
  • Phillip Noyce
  • Lucille Rhodes & Margaret Murphy

Feature Debuts

  • Luc Béraud
  • Zale Dalen
  • Peter Handke
  • Peter Hayden
  • Errol Morris

Final Features

  • Peter Hayden

Festivals

  • NYFF World Premiere
    • American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince
    • Gates of Heaven
    • Perceval le Gallois
  • Cannes
    • The Shout (Grand Prix)
    • Despair
    • The Left-Handed Woman
    • Violette Nozière
    • Dossier 51 (Un Certain Regard)
  • Other
    • The Apple Game (Paris)
    • Bloodbrothers (Toronto)
    • Elective Affinities (Montreal)
    • Manimals (Chicago)
    • Movies Are My Life (Chicago)
    • Skip Tracer (Toronto)
    • A Wedding (San Sebastian)
  • N/A
    • Camouflage
    • CIA: Case Officer
    • Get Out Your Handkerchiefs
    • The Green Room
    • Like a Turtle on Its Back
    • The Miracle of the Wolves
    • Newsfront
    • Spies
    • They Are Their Own Gifts
    • With Babies and Banners: Story of the Women’s Emergency Brigade

Oscar Nominees

  • Bloodbrothers: Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Get Out Your Handkerchiefs: Best Foreign Film (won)
  • With Babies and Banners: Story of the Women’s Emergency Brigade: Best Documentary Feature

Events/Shorts/Panels

events
shorts

Discussions By Length (Approximate)

  • 23:07 Spies (29:32-52:39)
  • 22:32 Perceval le Gallois (3:30:13-3:52:45)
  • 18:11 Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (1:52:40-2:10:51)
  • 16:41 Like a Turtle on Its Back (2:50:45-3:07:26)
  • 16:19 The Green Room (56:53-1:13:12)
  • 13:48 Despair (2:36:46-2:50:44)
  • 13:46 Violette Nozière (4:08:52-4:22:38)
  • 13:07 The Left-Handed Woman (2:11:56-2:25:03)
  • 12:21 The Shout (3:17:51-3:30:12)
  • 11:41 Dossier 51 (2:25:04-2:36:45)
  • 10:33 Camouflage (1:14:13-1:24:46)
  • 9:46 A Wedding [One Person] (19:45-29:31)
  • 8:06 The Miracle of the Wolves [One Person] (4:00:45-4:08:51)
  • 7:49 “Styles of Radical Will” [One Person] (1:31:35-1:39:24)
  • 7:15 Newsfront [One Person] (1:39:25-1:46:40)
  • 7:07 Gates of Heaven [One Person] (3:07:27-3:14:34)
  • 6:47 Bloodbrothers [One Person] (1:24:47-1:31:34)
  • 6:32 American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince (3:52:46-3:59:18)
  • 5:58 The Apple Game [One Person] (1:46:41-1:52:39)
  • 4:12 Skip Tracer [One Person] (52:40-56:52)
  • 1:29 Elective Affinities [Unavailable] (3:15:22-3:16:51)
  • 1:25 Movies Are My Life [Unavailable] (3:59:19-4:00:44)
  • 0:46 Manimals [Unavailable] (3:14:35-3:15:21)

Specifications

  • Robert Altman, A Wedding, 1978, 35 mm, color, stereo sound, 125 minutes, 2.39:1, English, USA.
  • Fritz Lang, Spione, 1928, 35 mm, black-and-white, silent, 150 minutes, 1.33:1, German, Germany.
  • Zale Dalen, Skip Tracer, 1977, 16 mm, color, mono sound, 95 minutes, 1.37:1, English, Canada.
  • François Truffaut, La Chambre verte, 1978, 35 mm, color and black-and-white, mono sound, 94 minutes, 1.66:1, French, France.
  • Krzysztof Zanussi, Barwy ochronne, 1977, 35 mm, color, mono sound, 106 minutes, 1.66:1, Polish and English, Poland.
  • Robert Mulligan, Bloodbrothers, 1978, 35 mm, color, mono sound, 116 minutes, 1.85:1, English, USA.
  • Lucille Rhodes & Margaret Murphy, They Are Their Own Gifts, 1978, 16 mm, color, mono sound, 52 minutes, 1.37:1, English, USA.
  • Saul Landau, CIA: Case Officer, 1978, 16 mm, color, mono sound, 30 minutes, 1.37:1, English, USA.
  • Lorraine Gray, With Babies and Banners: Story of the Women’s Emergency Brigade, 1978, 16 mm, color, mono sound, 45 minutes, 1.37:1, English, USA.
  • Phillip Noyce, Newsfront, 1978, 35 mm and 16 mm, color and black-and-white, mono sound, 110 minutes, 1.66:1 and 1.37:1, English, Australia.
  • Vera Chytilová, Hra o jablko, 1977, 35 mm, color, mono sound, 100 minutes, 1.37:1, Czech, Czechoslovakia.
  • Bertrand Blier, Préparez vos mouchoirs, 1978, 35 mm, color, mono sound, 105 minutes, 1.66:1, French, France.
  • Peter Handke, Die linkshändige Frau, 1978, 35 mm, color, mono sound, 119 minutes, 1.37:1, German and French, West Germany.
  • Michel Deville, Le Dossier 51, 1978, 35 mm, color, mono sound, 108 minutes, 1.66:1, French, France.
  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Despair, 1978, 35 mm, color, mono sound, 119 minutes, 1.66:1, English, West Germany.
  • Luc Béraud, La tortue sur le dos, 1978, 35 mm, color, mono sound, 110 minutes, 1.66:1, French, France.
  • Errol Morris, Gates of Heaven, 1978, 16 mm, color, mono sound, 83 minutes, 1.37:1, English, USA.
  • Robin Lehman, Manimals, 1978, 16 mm, color, mono sound, 29 minutes, 1.37:1, English, USA.
  • Gianni Amico, Le affinità elettive, 1978, 35 mm, color, mono sound, 180 minutes, 1.37:1, Italian, Italy.
  • Jerzy Skolimowski, The Shout, 1978, 35 mm, color, stereo sound, 86 minutes, 1.85:1, English, UK.
  • Eric Rohmer, Perceval le Gallois, 1978, 35 mm, color, mono sound, 140 minutes, 1.37:1, French, France.
  • Martin Scorsese, American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince, 1978, 16 mm, color, mono sound, 55 minutes, 1.37:1, English, USA.
  • Peter Hayden, Movies Are My Life, 1978, 16 mm, color, mono sound, 50 minutes, 1.37:1, English, USA.
  • Raymond Bernard, Le Miracle des loups, 1924, 35 mm, black-and-white, silent, 132 minutes, 1.33:1, French, France.
  • Claude Chabrol, Violette Nozière, 1978, 35 mm, color, mono sound, 124 minutes, 1.66:1, French, France.

April 2020 Capsules

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon [rewatch]
While I fundamentally agree with Sean that the ending of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon doesn’t especially make sense, it carries a thematic resonance that squares with a lot of the film’s more direct import. Like with perhaps the film it most tries to emulate, A Touch of Zen, one of the greatest of all wuxias, the fundamental aim is self-betterment in favor of transcendence. For the warriors at the end of their prime, it’s to discover love while fighting the desire for revenge; for the desert bandit, it’s to recapture the one treasure that he had to let go of; for the poisonous theif, it’s to try to learn the art that she could never even begin to master. Jiaolong is caught between all of these places, and indeed wants on some level to achieve them all simultaneously. Accordingly, she is able to access these differing experiences and worlds, shifting in class stature and appearance; it’s surely no coincidence that she’s the only character to have substantially differing attire, and there’s a direct citation of the many wuxias where women disguised themselves as men just by wearing their hair up. Zhang’s all-time performance echoes this too, shifting between wide-eyed excitement, sullen discontentment, and hungry attraction in a way that still communicates the very core of her being. Crucially, she’s the youngest: she says that she’s “just playing” a number of times, and there’s a refreshing unseriousness and untestedness to her character that allows her to shift between these roles, to explore without getting stuck in her ordained place like the rest. (The near-mythic import that all of the other main actors, even Chang Chen, carry in comparison to Zhang’s still-ascendant star can’t be underestimated either.)

So while the essential nature of the ending, taking all of the stories and wishes spread throughout into account, may not necessarily work, if there’s one person who could both exist in the real world and among the clouds, floating forever, it’d be Jiaolong.

March 2020 Capsules

High and Low
In essence, High and Low really is building entirely to the scene in the GI bar. Though there are numerous scenes of interaction with the lower depths and sequences with large groups of people, this is the first time that the viewer is truly presented with the masses that Gondo and the police have been insulated from. Of course, there is a great deal of narrative import that occurs, but even more important is the clash between texture — loud music, rapidly moving bodies — and the intruders: the groups of “disguised” police officers and the dark glasses-wearing kidnapper. Both implicitly stick out, and it is their in-between status that snaps Kurosawa’s concerns into place: high and low are impossible to bridge, but there’s a great deal of room in the pits in between.