Thursday, March 19, 2009

Film Festival: Try It, You'll Like It

Remember when you discovered something slightly exotic, extremely interesting and great fun, but when you attemped to introduce this new passion to friends they looked at you as if you were unstable? (Sushi, let’s say.) You wait until the next time you meet, and revisit the subject with another plea. Finally, the person attempts to shut you up by mumbling that they might give it a try. But they don’t. So you shrug and give up.

Unfortunately, I continue to pester. This annoying persistence is a possible explanation for my incredibly shrinking list of friends on MySpace. Nevertheless, six years after my original journey to the Cleveland International Film Festival, some of you must be listening: Attendance was at a near record last year despite a blizzard and water main break.
But if you're still a holdout, here are four good reasons to go (besides I might stop pestering you).

Free and convenient parking. Park your car below Tower City; get your ticket validated at the Film Fest desk and drive out anytime you want. Give me free, convenient, downtown parking, and I will watch slush melt, a Yoko Ono concert or a lecture on fruit fly migration. Make me pay to park and I will not even meet Halle Berry for coffee.

It’s an adventure.
When you attend films such as “The Wedding Crashers” or “Die Hard 9,” you know what you're getting after the 20 minutes of trailers. You likely have seen the majority of this feature in previous promos. It is possible you could write this movie. However, when the lights go down on “Serbian Franco Mondo La Faollies de Garu” you will be surprised. Often the surprise will be positive, occasionally the very opposite, but you will exit the theater feeling like a sophisticated scamp.

Foreign films don't include LeBron. Film Festival movies rarely have the staples of traditional American cinema: beautiful, recognizable actors. Modern movies are edited to allow a maximum of .07 seconds per scene, lest the viewer lose attention. Many movies come with a loud soundtracks that cue the viewer what to feel with the subtlety of a LeBron James dunk. In most festival films, you find performers so physically normal that you leave feeling like Brangelina. You will see homes and countries that will inspire you to kiss your front door. (You might even see something from your homeland, since the festival has a strong selection of films from Central and Eastern Europe.) The pacing will be slower, the packaging less slick. One caveat: You may be required to read and to think, impediments to some film fans.

It’s easy. Look on the Web site and select a film (there are 140 features and 177 shorts, including eight films by or about Clevelanders). Drive (or take the RTA) to Tower City, park your car, report to the Film Fest desk for the blessed parking ticket validation ceremony. Get your movie ticket. Go to movie. Repeat as necessary.
And you didn’t even have to eat raw fish.
— Bob Carson

(Check out our blog daily for previews of upcoming films playing at the 33rd Cleveland International Film Festival.)

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