Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Film Fests, Part 2

No, it’s not Friday yet—but I just thought I’d write up a little something about last weekend’s Deep Focus Film Festival before I forget.

Since the local film festival isn’t quite as big and crazy and hectic as last month’s Cleveland International Film Festival (Cleveland’s last 10 days and includes more than 120 movies in hundreds of time slots, whereas Deep Focus is a four-day festival, with 21 screenings throughout the weekend)—and since it’s my home festival—the whole experience was different. For one thing, I was home. When I was at Cleveland, I was doing Cleveland. And that meant that, for the four days I was there, it was pretty much all movies, all the time. But since I was at home for this one, I had to balance a few things—and I was free to take it a little easier. The festival’s more forgiving schedule helped that, too.

As I mentioned in my last update, Thursday was opening night. Waitress was the only screening that night—followed by martinis and schmoozing down the street. For some reason, I’m starting to equate film festivals with martinis. Go figure.

On Friday, the screenings didn’t start until 7. Since it was a gorgeous day, I called up a friend, and we met for drinks down the street from the theater before I rushed off to see Air Guitar Nation. The crowd wasn’t quite as large as it had been for Waitress—but it should have been, because Air Guitar Nation is one of the funniest documentaries I’ve ever seen. Afterwards, I could have stuck around for one more movie—a choice between another doc, Maxed Out, and a special presentation of one of my favorites, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, but I’d left my husband at home, painting things, so I figured I’d head home instead.

Saturday’s programming started at 3:30, with a special presentation of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but I chose to wait until Broken English at 7:30. I had to be sure to make it to that one, since, on Thursday night, I’d met Chip and John, the guys who made The Fixer (which, incidentally, is fun in a very strange way), the short that was playing before Broken English began. It was another pretty full showing—including a handful of my fellow critics, who, following the movie, all headed back down the street to TBD for a quick beer and some snacks. Then we made our way back to the theater for the 10:15 showing of the new zom com, Fido, where we all sat in the same row and made ridiculous references to our current fave, Hot Fuzz, as we waited for the screening to start.

If I weren’t one of them, I’d probably think that film critics are obnoxious. I’d like to note, however, that I did a very good job of keeping my mouth shut when people seated around me at the festival were discussing movies they’d seen or would like to see. Sure, I was eavesdropping, but I can’t help that. If I hear you talking about movies, I’m going to listen. There’s no stopping it. But at least I didn’t butt in and go off on some long monologue about Fracture. And, for that, I’m very proud of myself.

Though I could have caught another screening or two on Sunday, there were things to be done at home, so I called it a weekend, having caught four of the films. I would have liked to have caught a few more, but I had some scheduling issues—for instance, Paprika and Family Law both played at about the same time as Broken English, so I’ll have to try to catch both of those later.

While Deep Focus is still a small festival (this was only its third year), what it lacks in size, it makes up for in programming. Of the ten New Independents featured this year, I caught four—and I found all of them to be worthy of the time and energy. I’m already looking forward to seeing what next year’s festival will bring.

Columbus is blessed with a great indie film scene. We’re fortunate enough to be able to see a lot of films that theaters in smaller cities won’t run—and Deep Focus just adds to it. It’s a great opportunity to catch those little gems that you wouldn’t normally get to see. So if you’re in the Columbus area, I highly recommend keeping an eye out for next year’s festival. If you’re not, check into local festivals. You don’t have to be a hard-core film geek to appreciate it. You don’t have to take the week off and catch every single film (though, if you really want to, go for it—and there were plenty of people in Cleveland who did). You can just pick and choose and check out a film or two that interests you—and I promise you’ll be glad you did.



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