Confessions of a Festival Junkie

Shadows @ Film Fests
Notes from the 8th St Louis International Film Festival 28 October to 7 November 1999.
Originally written for Cinezine.
by Rich Cline 8 November 1999
Well, I survived my first-ever experience as a film festival juror. And I must admit that I'm hooked now. Part of this might have something to do with the wonderfully hospitable, friendly atmosphere at the St Louis Film Fest. It was like all of the guests (jurors, festival workers and filmmakers) were old friends, just hanging out and chatting incessantly about movies. And we were pampered to within an inch of our lives.

But what about the films? I saw 24 features and 12 shorts over those 10 days. BOYS DON'T CRY (by Kimberly Pierce) won the Audience Award, and deservedly so. Other highlights: Almodovar's ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, AMERICAN MOVIE (Chris Smith's hilarious documentary about indie filmmaker Mark Borschardt), BANDITS, CREATURE (Parris Patton's astounding transgender documentary), EAST IS EAST, FOLLOWING (producer Emma Thomas' terrific London thriller), IN THE NAVEL OF THE SEA, LAST NIGHT (writer-director-actor Don McKellar's fantastic end-of-the-world drama), Herzog's MY BEST FIEND, the hilarious P TINTO'S MIRACLE, POP & ME (entertaining around the world doc with Richard Roe and son), VIA SATELLITE, WEST BEIRUT, and even a very rare big-screen showing of SHAFT! Note that I spent time with all of the people whose names are in parentheses.

And I also got to meet (and party with) several up-and-coming filmmakers, including Carlos Bolado (UNDER CALIFORNIA won the Interfaith Award), Glen Goei (THAT'S THE WAY I LIKE IT), Madison Graie (ZACHARIA FARTED), Charles Koppelman (DUMBARTON BRIDGE), Eric Mendelbaum (ROBERTA), John-Luke Montias (BOBBY G CAN'T SWIM), Andrew Shea (THE CORNDOG MAN won the Emerging Filmmaker Award, which my jury selected), Bret Stern (ROAD TO PARK CITY), Francesca Talenti (SNAKE TALES) and Mark Yanney (EIGHT LANES IN HAMILTON). If all these films fail to secure distribution deals, keep an eye out for future projects, because they're all going places.

So what's the point of all this rambling? Merely that we should advantage of our local festivals! It's the only chance we ever get to see films made far outside the Hollywood system, by people who (hopefully) have something original to say. And lucky me: I got home just as the 43rd London Film Festival started, so I get to extend my own festival season for another 10 days.

Up until last week, I thought that being a film critic only had one perk (free movies). The job certainly doesn't pay very well, but I think I'll keep at it as long as the possibility of another festival looms on the horizon. Especially if it's in St Louis....

See also More Confessions of a Film Junkie (London Film Festival)
And the Shadows @ Film Fests page

1999 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall