In no particular order some of the cool film related experiences I've had this year...
Attending one of the most talked about screenings of SXSW 2011
famously strict about throwing folks out who are disruptive. Generally (and not surprisingly) they aren't put in a position to ask the people who made the film to leave their own screening. Personally, it didn't bother me excessively - but it was amusing to have first hand experience of the event which I was reading about online the next morning. One of the best writeups of the event was by Eric D. Snyder and is both accurate and amusing. My review of the film along with some video of the Four Loko drinking contest that proceeded the screening (and I'm sure in no way contributed to the mayhem) can be read here.
SXSW is source of a huge number of runner up experiences, from saying hello to future mega star Brit Marling on the street outside the Paramount Theater to attending the world premier of Zombie Girl subject Emily Hagins' new film My Sucky Teen Romance. You can checkout all my adoring SXSW coverage here.
Crispin Glover interview
Crispin Glover is an actor with a flair for creating memorable characters. From Back to the Future to Hot Tub Time Machine, he can make even a small role stand out. He's also an unusual fellow who has made some rather noncommercial films (It is Fine! Everything is Fine and What is It?) Thanks to Three Imaginary Girls where my friend Amie is always encouraging me to take these leaps and The Northwest Film Form (who hosted the films in January) I had a chance to interview Glover. Not in the face to face sense, but via an extended back and forth via email. That in itself was pretty special, but the fact that the article sparked discussion later on one of my favorite blogs Techdirt made the experience unforgettable.
Meeting Short Filmmakers at SIFF
The new SIFF Film Center Opening
As I mentioned above this year SIFF opened their new Film Center which houses office space, educational resources and a new jewelbox theater. I supported the fundraising out of the expected sense of satisfaction from the organization finally having a permanent home. From a selfish perspective I also gained the possibility of someday being able to have the following conversation with a theater-goer who has poached my perch while I'm off at the restroom. It would go something like this:
- (me) Excuse me, I'm sorry, but you're sitting in my seat.
- (seat stealer who improbably has a tough guy Brooklyn accent) Oh yeah? What, has the seat got your name on it or something?
- (me) Actually, it sort of does...
Yes - I have endowed a seat at SIFF Cinema. It's not exactly a location I would have chosen within the theater, but it is on the aisle at least. And I am willing to overlook the fact that it somewhat looks like the seat is
Let's get ready to rumble!
Fantastic Fest rocks. And rocks hard. It's almost impossible to attend without some experience there making your most memorable moments of the year list. There's a reason it's been referred to as "a film festival with the boring parts cut out" as well as "the geek Telluride." The audiences are incredibly fun, the films are generally terrific, and the organizers go out of there way to hold some great parties. I mean, where else are you going to attend the US premiere of Human Centipede II where the buffet features a series of pigs arranged butt to snout? During which party you randomly engage in a long impromptu conversation with two filmmakers in town showing their short Exit - on topics running the gamut from film, to Brooklyn, Heeb Magazine, The Chocolate Room to of course Fantastic Fest. Nowhere else I venture to say.
But the clear trip highlight was the "Fantastic Debates" a tradition of the festival. Part of it would be recognizable to anyone who has seen a high school (or film involving a high school) debate team. Two parties argue opposite sides of a position. The difference here is that after an argument and rebuttal the pair "settle it in the ring." After two rounds of boxing the crowd votes for the winner of the "debate" via volume of cheers. About as scientific a process as I'm sure the ancient founders of logical argument could have devised. Debate topics for which participants/gladiators took pro/con positions this year included included "Robots are superior to humans in every way", "World of Warcraft is a complete
For the full slate of my Fantastic Fest coverage you can follow this link.
Interview with star and director of Martha Marcy May Marlene
Sean Durkin and Elizabeth Olsen. The latter previously known I as the younger sister of the Olsen Twins. While originally the less famous member of the family Elizabeth looks like she has a super bright future ahead of her. I had a good time chatting with Durkin and Olsen (who really couldn't be any more different than her on-screen persona in the film) one random morning at the Fairmont hotel. While my review of the film was published at Three Imaginary Girls the interview was tragically lost due to some extremely dumb choices on my part. Mainly that of using a new digital recorder which I wasn't familiar enough with for the session. Really hurts when you realize an hour later you've got nothing but the last five seconds on tape. Live and learn I suppose. I'd had better luck earlier in the year when I sat down to chat with Miguel Arteta the director of Cedar Rapids in another interview I very much enjoyed (and not just because I got to recommend he seek out Au Revoir Tapei)
But wait, there's more...
I've been very blessed to enjoy far more film moments throughout the 2011. Both from a personal experiential perspective and great great person-to-person interactions. A few more examples include:
- All the fabulous conversations about film and other topics I've had with people throughout 2011 I've met at festivals and online. Whether I caught your name or not - talking with people is the real reason I love attending so much film. It may be counter-intuitive but it's so, so true.
- Almost every damn moment at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin. That theater is da bomb. I know people haven't said that for twenty years. But it's somehow the perfect description for the Alamo Drafthouse. Seriously, yo!
- The Joseph Gordon-Levitt hitRECord event in Seattle where I got to watch a bit of experimental movie production entertainment, which was overshadowed by the coolness of meeting twitter friends in real-life for conversation.
- Film press reception during SIFF I was invited to in the W hotel through Three Imaginary Girls. Great time mingling with film-makers and meeting many of film press attending the festival.
- The live event for Kevin Smith's Red State and followup discussion on the MacGuffin Podcast. Not because the film was so great, but because Kevin Smith onstage is a hoot and I enjoyed recording a discussion about it afterward in the world famous Scarecrow Video.
- SIFF Closing Night Party - just because it's fun to mingle with people who've seen way too many films over the past 25 days. That's right - 25 days of fest (plus three weeks of press screenings). Read it and weep film fans not from Seattle.
- A series of film writer "tweet-ups" organized by Jason of NewMovieFriday.com (and others).
- Attending one of my better post film Q&A's of the year with Javier Bardem talking about his film Biutiful in Palm Springs. While somewhat stealthily recording video of the event (the Q&A, not the film of course).
- Snagging a MondoTees limited edition Dumbo poster when they went onsale. I have a fair number of their posters now (one day I'll need to actually hang them). But Dumbo holds a special place in my heart as one of the earliest films I remember seeing in a theater that didn't scare the living crap out of me (Sleeping Beauty), have me recoil in horror at the cruelty of the world (Bambi), or have my first recallable serious WTF moment (Fantasia)