This is the first year in five years that I didn’t go to Sundance, Slamdance, or any of the other satellite film festivals in
Also, don’t tell, but I can’t take the Industry jerks. They are so pretentious, not in the self-deprecating way that I’m pretentious mind you, but honest to goodness indie hipster pretentious. They descend on
I’ve met some really fun and really great people at the festivals, but the hipster pretensions and the social snobbery wears on my patience. It’s so bizarre to be at a party mingling with people and when the doors open to let in another reveler, everyone turns their head like a tennis match to see if the entrant is either a.) important or b.) famous. A slight lull in conversation follows while everyone immediately judges the worth of the entrant, and then the party resumes. Of course, after 50 minutes, I’m the only one who is still sober.
I have a lot of great memories of festival times: fantastic movies, really bad movies, interminable movies, and shoestring movies. You meet really fun people in line, fellow film geeks who are just there for the shows as well as the professionals; it's a great place to network. You also tend to see some of the same folks from year to year, which makes for "Don't I know you?" reunions and "Same time next year?" conclusions. People beg you to come see their movie, screened in a bar’s basement on
I’ll never forget the night that my critic friend Scott and I waited outside the Egyptian Theater for tickets to 28 Days Later. The temperature was in the teens and we were waiting in a cement bunker under the street level. The people that surround you are both your friends and your competition for seats; an uneasy camaraderie. I didn’t want to see the movie but I wanted to see it more than anything: 28 Days Later was directed by one of my favorite directors but the movie is a very scary film and I do not do scary (let alone very scary.) Scott and I scored the last two tickets of the night. I sat next to a girl I’d never seen before. We said “Hi,” before the movie started. She and I ended up gripping hands in complete fright as we both struggled to make it through the utterly terrifying but awesome film. Afterwards, we laughed at each other and said goodbye.
What you don’t realize is that attending the festival is very hard work.
You see a lot of movies when you are press for an outlet. You might think that watching 4-6 movies a day would be fun, but it begins to wear on you after 5 days. By day 6 or 7 you're getting sick if you weren't already. You also have to write up your reviews, talk about the deals being brokered, and provide any other content the festival or your outlet requires of you. It’s so much fun watching the great movies, but you really have to watch a lot of dreck to get to the good ones. You also have to be mindful that a bad word from you can hurt the chances of a film being picked up and distributed.
I’m so glad that my friends still do that work, being a film critic is hard work, often draining and thankless, with little to no respect accorded. I stayed home this year to comfort a fevered Baby Proximo. I am sad that I missed my friends and the little cinematic gems, but am somewhat grateful that I don’t need to do it all anymore.
For the inside scoop on all things festival related, check out these sites by my friends:
Eric D. Snider's coverage for Eric D. Snider.com, starting with Day 1 Diary.