Saturday, March 15, 2008

CIFF Report: Day 1

I had all kinds of problems with my hotel Internet connection this morning, so I finally gave up, wrote up my post of the day, and left. But now that I’m back to the hotel for the night, it looks like things are finally up and running. So let’s talk about Thursday, shall we?

I finally made it out the door by about 8:30. It’s a long and boring drive to Cleveland—just 100 miles or so of nothing. So I spent my time singing along with the B52s and talking to my GPS. At 10:30, I finally arrived at the hotel. I’d called earlier to warn them that I was coming—and to ask if I could drop off my bags. But they did me one better—they let me check in. So I dropped my stuff off at my room and hit the road. My GPS said I’d arrive at the festival at 11, and since my first movie wasn’t starting until 11:45, that would give me time to park and settle in before rushing off—or so I thought.

When I got to the lot, there was a sign that said the lot was full. Uh-oh. So I got a ticket, drove through to the other side of the lot, gave my ticket back, and was directed to the overflow lot. Even that was packed. I’m pretty sure I got one of the last possible spots—and I was just about as far away as I could get. Fortunately, there was a shuttle, and it was right outside my car when I got out. Lucky for me.

Since it was a pretty nice, warm day, I had planned to leave my coat in the car—one less thing to drag around with me. Of course, I wasn’t planning on parking my car 20 miles away. So as the shuttle drove off, I started realizing that that had probably been a stupid move. In fact, all kinds of thoughts hit me at that point—like How late is this shuttle actually running? Will I have to walk alone in the freezing cold at 11:30, when my last movie gets out? Unlike most of these people, I didn’t have a buddy to walk with me. I was on my own. So there’s one thing that stayed in the back of my mind all day.

As we were (finally) getting off the shuttle, I struck up a conversation with one of my shuttle-mates about my bright blue media pass. We chatted about the festival—and about other festivals—and we compared notes on the day’s movies. It was wonderful to have someone to chat with, since I was there by myself. And, in fact, we were headed to the same movie at 11:45—he to the line in the hall, and me right through the doors and to my seat (ah, the joys of the bright blue media pass). We had a few of the same movies planned for the day, so I had a feeling I’d run into him again.

On my way in the door, I grabbed the Dailies, the sheet of information on the day’s happenings. I also grabbed the info package on discounts in the area—as well as the events schedule (which would help me plan Friday’s Happy Hour with John). Then I rushed into the theater at about 11:30—just as they were starting to let non-passholders in. I sat down and took a few minutes to catch my breath.

The first movie of the day was Travelling with Pets, a Russian movie about a young woman who suddenly finds herself free after her husband dies. It was an interesting movie—but since it was my first movie of the day, and I’d been rushing around all morning, a rather slow Russian movie made me a bit jittery. I’d been hoping for something thrilling, and this wasn’t it. Beautiful lead actress, though. She said very little, but she was just delightful.

A few minutes into the movie, I was relieved to find that I still had my “buffer seat” between me and the next person—but then someone showed up late and decided to climb over me. This was no small feat—as the woman was quite large. Also, she squeaked when she breathed. Great way to start the festival.

Toward the end of the movie, my stomach started growling. It’s a good thing I’d thought to eat a granola bar on the shuttle, or I’d be starving. But when the movie got out at 1:15, I rushed to McDonald’s, ordered whatever came to mind, and inhaled it as I filled in my notes from the movie. I didn’t have a lot of time to think, since my new movie started at 2:15. An hour may sound like a long time, but I needed to eat, take my notes, stop by the bathroom, and make it into the theater by at least 15 minutes before the movie. It was a rush, but I made it. And as I sat and waited for Movie #2, I pulled out my knitting and tried to relax.

As I relaxed with my knitting, I was amused to see that one of the regulars from last year was already making loud pronouncements on the other side of the theater. And she was wearing the same crazy outfit as last year. Apparently, she’d had a run-in with some guy who had taken one of the seats that she’d been saving for a friend, and the two of them exchanged some unpleasant words. Personally, I wouldn’t want to mess with her. In fact, I try to stay as far away as possible.

Just minutes before the movie started, another rather large and somewhat dopey-looking moviegoer stopped in the aisle next to me, looking around in confusion.

Please don’t sit next to me…please don’t sit next to me… I quietly chanted in my head.

“Can I climb over you there?” he asked. I groaned and let him through. He made some lighthearted comments about something-or-other and took his seat.

Movie #2 was The Art of Negative Thinking, a dark Norwegian comedy about a support group for handicapped people. I enjoyed it, but the guy next to me promptly fell asleep. The loud breathing was bad enough—but the snoring made me (and everyone around us) want to kill him. But, really, what do you do when someone’s snoring two seats down? Do you hit him? We all wanted to, but I guess we all figured that wasn’t acceptable—because no one did.

After Movie #2 got out at 3:30ish, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to do much of anything before Movie #3. Mostly, I stopped by a window in the hallway and took some notes. That’s when I realized that the tunnel vision had begun. It’s a strange phenomenon—one that, I assume, is caused by spending several hours in a dark room, staring at a bright little screen. But it’s a weird feeling. And I knew it would only get worse as the day went on.

On my way back to the theater, I ran into my friend from the shuttle and chatted with him and his friends. Then I made my way into Movie #3.

The crazy lady from last year was once again in Movie #3—loudly commenting on Movie #2 and recapping her run-in story. Once again, I pulled out my knitting and waited for someone with bronchitis or something to decide to sit down next to me.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen—and I was on my own for Japan’s Big Man Japan. I’m not really allowed to run a full review of this one, but I’ll just say that it was…odd. But fun. But really odd. It’s like reality TV meets a Japanese monster movie. Quirky and fun.

BMJ was a longer movie, so I didn’t get out until about 6:10. Again, I had just over an hour until the next movie—just enough time to get a sub from Subway, take my notes, and check my messages. Then it was off to Movie #4.

Movie #4 was Roman de Gare from France. It’s another one where I had to check in before taking my seat—another one that I’m not allowed to write about. So I’ll just say that I liked it and leave it at that. In fact, it was my favorite movie of the day.

When it got out, it was a little before 9, and I had another hour. I took the time to wander into the mall area (as far as I’d been into the mall all day—about 15 feet from the food court) and took a seat for a few minutes to call my husband. Then I headed back to the theater once again to take my seat for Movie #5 and take some notes.

I was the second person inside the theater for Movie #5. Five movies in one day. Now, it may not sound like a big deal, but it’s exhausting. I’d gone from sitting in a theater to rushing around to sitting in another theater all day. And the fact that I was doing it for work as much as for pleasure made it even more hectic. If I didn’t need to write up stuff on the movies and make assessments and take notes, it would have been less insane. And considering that it was almost 10, and I’d been there all day—after driving for two hours and dealing with that whole parking thing—it was starting to get to me. I actually thought about just giving in and going back to the room to sleep, but I’m too stubborn to give up like that. So I settled in for One Man in the Band, a British documentary on one-man bands. There were several times throughout the short movie that I wished I’d skipped it. It was decent—but not all that thrilling. So when the credits rolled, I was the first one of our small crowd out the door. Then I made my way out of the theater, praying for the shuttle to be waiting for me at the door.

And, fortunately, it was. I boarded the little bus and waited for it to take me to my car—which, I was relieved to find, was still in one piece. It was all alone in the back corner of the lot. Apparently, all those people who parked around me weren’t as hard-core as I am. I rushed to my car, plugged in my GPS, and made my way back to the hotel. By the time I got here, it was nearly midnight. So I got ready for bed, and, since I was still wide awake from all the craziness of getting back here, I got everything ready for the morning. I set out my clothes and plugged in my laptop. Then I took my notes and called it a night by about 1.

The alarm went off this morning at 7:50—and then I hit snooze. I couldn’t keep sleeping, though, because breakfast only went until 9. So I got up and jumped in the shower, feeling a bit like I’d been hit by a bus. I was relieved that John would be showing up today—because it’ll be nice to have someone in the trenches with me. That, and I’m looking forward to martini night.

It’s now 10:00, though, and I’ve got to head back to the festival. John has probably been sitting there since 8, and I’m sure he has a wonderful parking space. So now it’s time for me to hit the road and get caught up with him (and fill him in on all the things I overheard about the various movies) before our first one starts at 11:30.



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