Friday, September 28, 2012

WRAP UP: Here's my list of what I loved most about @FantasticFest including films, food and... many of you. #FF2012

How can I manage to write about Fantastic Fest? Why are there so many songs about rainbows? Who's on first?  AHHHOIJFOAIJHGIPAJ! See…no part of me can begin forming rational thought about my time at Fantastic Fest let alone turn those thoughts into something intelligible.

But, if I don't type out even total nonsense now, it will be locked forever in my brain, only likely to be accessed by one of those fancy cables they use in Vanishing Waves, my favorite sci-fi film of this fest.

I'm going to give it to you straight. I fucking loved the good hell out of Fantastic Fest in ways I was nowhere near prepared for.  (And guys - I was pretty prepared to adore it.) I found it  to be an intoxicating (in more ways than one) haven of awesome the likes of which I didn't totally know still existed on planet Earth.  It does, y'all.  It so does.

I'll make a list, then, of everything I loved about the festival.  In no particular order.

Austin itself


Actual Austin graffiti
Believe the hype. That town has no equal. You can't even say "it's got the weather of ___ and the style of ___ and the music scene of ____." It's distinctly, wonderfully, perfectly Austin, and thank fucking god.  From the weather (blissful) to the graffiti (subversively kind, if there is such a thing) to the food trucks (the kind of yumminess that should be illegal) - this town spent five days trying to permanently tempt me out of my New York state of mind.

Cute boys

Oh hey. Hiiiiii. Bearded movie geeks galore.  Hello!

Good people 


Friends I knew already, and a bunch of new ones. I shall list them now for you here.

Shivvy - the dearest, funniest and sweetest person contained within Austin city limits and someone next to whom I was lucky enough to sit, for a couple (but too few) films and gab sessions

Nickrob - no less than #FF2012 royalty

Jordan Hoffman - NYC represent! #1 nicest human attending this festival.

Sunny - the official brightest smile of the Festival and my favorite person to catch the eye of and wave to, at regular intervals

JC Deleon - seriously good people, with beyond solid taste in short films

Neil Miller - BBQ devotee, Reject-in-a-good-way, general man of mystery

Brian Kelly - enthusiastic film-lover, purveyor of awesome tee shirts, Words With Friends champion and arbiter of midnight pancakes waitstaff standards

Rich, Dor, Shivvy
Jeremy Kirk - a friendly face I had sadly few opportunities with whom to converse

Rich - pizza slice stealer, onion ring peace offerer, Seattle advisor, cool dude

John Gholson - festival birthday boy, fantastic artist and all around bad-ass mofo

Larry Richman - a film festival staple and cornucopia of knowledge on Twitter

Jen Yamato - charmingest fashionista

Tom Clift - newest friend having met him at TIFF, and only person besides me and maybe Jordan Hoffman who'll have done TIFF, Fantastic Fest and NYFF.  High five!

And special shout out to a number of folks that I just met in Austin and hope to run into again sometime:

Jason Whyte
Peter Kuplowsky
Matt Kiernan
Russ & Katie
Luke Mullen
Tammy Metzger
Scott Weinberg
Mallory Lance
Other people I'm embarrassed to have forgotten please don't kill me

Lack of Industry


If you've been to a film festival, you know you're going to spend a fair amount of time spitting out the word "entourage" in sentences accompanied by at least a couple eye rolls.  And you resolve that Sundance, Toronto, and similar feasts offer solid enough film slates to put up with the sunglasses wearers inside, the black clothing from head to toe and even - sometimes -  the blase smartphone users who have the juevos mas grandes to check their email during a screening.  

No need to suck it up at Fantasic Fest, folks.  If you saw someone like that at 1120 S. Lamar this week, it's more likely it was THE PLAYER cosplay as it was to be an actual Hollywood insider. Not that smart business minds aren't there - they're just the good ones, the ones that see the value and the potential in the films playing at this (relatively) little genre festival.


Roughness around the edges


Fantastic Feud
This festival lets it all hang out.  Filmgoers here are perfectly content booing and hissing at a 30-second false start to a film without sound, or laughing (with, not at) a supremely inebriated event host stumble in front of an audience of hundreds.   Maybe it's the preponderance of alcohol, popcorn, movie posters, and a less intimidating dress code, but going to Fantastic Fest is the closest you'll get to having a film festival in your living room.  If your living room was big enough for hundreds of awesome people, from dear friends to perfect strangers to sexy international film stars to devoted volunteers to quirky programmers to sassy waitstaff.

The films


Oh yeah.  In addition to plying you with alcohol, surrounding you with cute boys and shoving cookies down your throat, this place also shows movies. Good movies!

Now…one thing that kept me from voraciously pursuing an appearance at Fantastic Fest any sooner is my, how shall I say this, lack of consistent enthusiasm for horror movies.  I like them more now than I ever have, which means… I like them. The good ones.    But I learned not too long ago not to judge a book by its intense, blood-starved, sinister, limbless cover.   They show more than just horror, here!

In fact, my 15-film Fantastic Fest journey was completely devoid of blood, guts and gore, unless you count The American Scream, the stellar documentary about people who make haunted houses in their backyards and garages.

I did, though, see some horrifically hilarious Tae-Kwon-Do, some terrifyingly awkward, deliberately dark comedy, and some disturbing and challenging family drama.   What I loved about this festival is that even though I may not go apeshit for horror movies, I generally tend to mesh well with people who do like them.  So the slate here ends up being a perfect mix of movies that - horror or otherwise - appeal to that type of moviegoer.  And although this festival was fairly small (75 features compared to 300 at TIFF the week before), it was possible to put together quite a varied mix of good quality films.  And leave with a list of titles I missed that I need to see when they're released.

The alcohol quotient


I'm not gonna say I have any need to preface this with some sort of "What happens in Austin…" but I wouldn't have been terribly surprised if I left the town with a shortage of cheap white wine. (My sincerest apologies to any middle-aged housewives.)

No, no, I jest.

It wasn't just white wine. I probably cleared the town out of most of its red wine, and placed the vodka reserves in serious jeopardy as well.

When in Rome!

Drafthouse cookies


Soft, sweet, tender, warm, indulgent, and mine all mine. And all I have to do is agree to buy the next size up in all my jeans when I get home.

Carolee, Christopher and Josh


Dor, Josh + tasty treats
Carolee, Christopher, Dor + yummers
Yes, they get their own category.  I'm stealing Carolee, Christopher, their devotion to good eats, their passion for film and filmmaking, their brussel-sprout-seeking skills and their innate warmth and kindness back to NYC with me.   Which is to say - they are moving here and I am keeping them forever.  Now Josh, the bearded hipster and formidable director of the boldest 80 seconds I've seen on the big screen this year (FF2012 short "Dialogue")… well, he'll have to wait to come to the big Apple since this town can only handle so much awesome at one time.  Maybe next year, pal.

Lots of other things


Such as...

The philosophy this festival has on bumpers - that is, the little trailers that play before each film.  They played a different bumper in front of every movie! I never saw the same one twice.  Take THAT, Uncle Marty.

The central location that encourages meeting new people and seeing/partying with/gossiping with/chatting movies with them multiple times.

The festival doles out awards. The awards are beer mugs and if you win, it's handed to you full of beer you must drink on stage.    Don't drink? No problem. There's a bong up there too - you can just take hit instead.  They have an award for the best badge photo of a festival attendee (making the infamous "shakey face"). And the prize? Not just a beer mug.  A blanket, printed with the shakey face photo on it.

And now, I'm going to make a list of what I did not love about the festival:
  • Drafthouse coffee. Can someone make a short horror film where the weapon of choice is this poisonous substance?
  • That one day that the power outlets on the tables in the tent didn't work
  • The fact that Mike didn't come, which would have significantly increased the cute guy quotient in Austin 
And the number one thing I hated about Fantastic Fest was that it ended and I had to go home!

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