a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

It Ain't Over Till It's Over: The Philadelphia Film Festival

No, it's actually over. Last night found a slew of "Festival Favorites" playing alongside the Closing Night Ceremony, during which awards were handed out and Saved!, which opens theatrically sometime terribly soon, screened. I made it out to none of this. Instead, I went to see just what occurs during one of these After Parties. The answer: not much. Free drinks were limited to three redeemable tickets, while even my modest hope for minor celebrity spotting was limited to one guy who was either the producer or director of the aforementioned Saved! (The place where it was held, by the by, is decadently cavernous. Denim, located in one of the swankier parts of Philly, seems to extend so far back that it seems longer than an actual city block -- as though we had entered some portal where the logic of time and space no longer hold any meaning. Also, they water-down their gin and tonics.)

Either I'm an incompetent web traveller or the web programmers are the incompetent ones, but the site has no official word on what won what award, and I was too drunk last night to remember what a friend told me. I seem to recall that Catherine Breillat's dreaded Anatomy of Hell won a couple, as did the doc Proteus. I sure hope the latter didn't score the Best Documentary award, as, while it's fine, it's a trifle compared to such titles as Bright Leaves, The Five Obstructions, even (presumably) John Landis' Slasher. (At least Super Size Me didn't tower over them.)

However, one needs only to go to the audience ballot list to see what won the Audience Award, which turned out to be Baadasssss! [Warning: Tired and/or Tiresome Rant] I can't say if the same thing occurs at other fests -- and I can't personally vouch for the Mario Van Peebles thingie -- but audiences around these parts seem to be almost criminally un-adventurous. Almost all of the interesting/formally-tricky/beautiful pics can be found somewhere near the bottom of the list (The Saddest Music in the World is a notch above titles like Distant, A Good Lawyer's Wife, and Time of the Wolf). Meanwhile, the top is teeming with mediocrities, or worse. Buddy, which occupies position #4, is entirely worthy of walking-out-of, so tedious in its lack of anything original or roughly defined as interesting that I can't believe audiences at large didn't start posing existential questions to themselves. (Metallica, on the other hand, was near-fixed: a fine film, that, but I imagine there were about ten of us who weren't die-hard metal-heads.) As Homer once said, democracy doesn't work.

Then again, there's something resembling a pyrhic victory in Anatomy of Hell scoring two trophies. It's just that I hope the low test-scores on Come and Go, Tulse Luper, and S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine doesn't mean next year the fascinating stuff is decreased, or rooted-out.

Lastly, here's an absurd list of titles I wanted to make it out to but, for whatever reason, didn't. Asterixes denote the pic definitely has a distributor:

Martin's Passion
The Legend of Evil Lake
Control Room*
Last Scene
She's One of Us
Wooden Camera
Memories of Murder
The Corporation*
The Toolbox Murders
Super Size Me*
Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive Art
S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine*
Stormy Weather
Free Radicals
I'm Not Scared*
King of the Ants
The First Letter
Who Killed Bambi?
Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself*
Last Life in the Universe
A Slipping Down Life
The Tesseract
Everday People
Breakfast With Hunter
Spare Parts
Cold Light
Come and Go

I'd like to say missing this many films won't happen again, but...


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