Friday, June 15, 2007

WWSFF #2: Audience Etiquette 101

It didn’t take long: fest-goers are starting to annoy me.

The list of pet peeves grows daily, and I feel like now might be a good time to revisit my somewhat-dated list of film festival DOs and DON’Ts. Some items on the list are geared specifically towards TIFF and SIFF and fests screening feature-length films, but the general principles of common courtesy and common sense are applicable anytime there’s a gathering of people in a confined space.

Today, in particular, I was treated to numerous examples of thick-headedness on the part of some of my theatre-mates. For starters, people: it’s dark inside the cinemas, so for the love of all that is sane, please take off your freakin’ sunglasses. They do not make you look cool. They do not make me think you’re an important filmmaker. They do not add an element of je ne sais quoi to you. They look lame. They look especially lame at the Cumberland, where the lights are always low and the need for any sort of protective eyewear indoors is nonexistent.

Similarly, don’t just shut off your cell phone and/or Blackberry, leave it at home. Are you really that important that you need to check your messages between each short film? Or stand up before the screening starts to delete your messages, one after another, so the whole world can see just how many people wanted to talk to you at some point? The answer to both questions is a resounding NO. Do you irritate the hell out of me when you flip your phone open in the dark – because you somehow believe that you’re encased in an opaque box and no one can see your phone’s astoundingly bright glow – to see if anyone’s called in the last three minutes? The answer to that question is a resounding: YES.


In non-pretentiousness peeves, how about showing up to the screening on time? Would you mind? Would it kill you? I realize you may only want to see the latter half of a particular package of films, but it seriously kills the mood for the rest of us when you and your five friends lumber into the theatre mid-screening and try to find seats together. If you’re 20 minutes late, you can go ahead and sit right up front as far as I’m concerned. By that time, you’ve lost cherry-picking privileges and should just sit your tardy ass down in whatever seat will result in the least amount of search time. Show some manners, fer cryin’ out loud.

ALL of the above peeves manifested themselves at the Celebrity Shorts programme I attended tonight, which boasted a full house but which also featured the shades-wearers, the phone-checkers, HORDES of latecomers and, worst of all, the constant din of voices outside the cinema doors where, presumably, the volunteers and staff were chatting...unaware that those of us at the rear of the theatre could hear them better than we could hear the actual shorts we were watching. I feel like bringing along a “Quiet, Please!” sign and pasting it to the outside of the entrance to the Cumberland 4. (The guy sitting behind me last night was a little more blunt: everytime the doors opened or the crowd outside got particularly loud, he’d heave a sigh of, “What the fuuuuuck?!”)

Griping aside, today’s sets of films were universally solid. Yes, there were some duds (there always are), but the bulk of the shorts I saw ranged from good to great. I went to three programmes – the aforementioned Celebrity Shorts (featuring films made by or starring Hollywood celebs), along with Official Selection 9: Fashion Victims and Official Selection 7: I’m With the Band. The standouts for me were:

* The Brazilian offering Tyger (7/8), which blends animation and puppetry in a dazzling display of light and dark as a giant tiger makes its way through a city at night.

* Bitch (6/8), which Linda reviewed a few days ago at SIFF.

* Josh Raskin’s I Met the Walrus (7/8), which takes an old audio recording of a 14-year-old interviewing John Lennon and drops into a trippy animated format. Tough to describe on paper, but wildly entertaining to watch onscreen.

* The touching (read: made Vickie cry!) German memoir One or Two Things (7/8), in which a woman recounts her childhood with her now-deceased mother.

* Room 10 (6/8), which Linda reviewed at SIFF and which (as she noted) features yet another stirring performance from Robin Wright Penn, who consistently makes interesting film choices. And her co-star, Kris Kristofferson gives an impressively understated performance that, not surprisingly, also made me cry.

I also really liked the music used in James Griffiths’ The One and Only Herb McGwyer Plays Wallis Island (6/8), a British comedy about a rock star hired to play the world’s smallest gig. Seriously, if there was a soundtrack to this 24-minute film, I’d buy it.

One final note for the day: the weather was gorgeous! Still a tiny bit on the warm side (80F), but sunny, breezy and dry. It’s amazing what a difference it makes!

Total shorts screened today: 24


Linda said...

It is bad think to an actress is hawt when her character is tired and suffering and miserable, like RRP in Room 10? And yes, Kris Kristofferson was also nicely understated in that film.

At SIFF this year, before every screening they not only tell you to turn off your "cellphones, pagers, beepers, blackberries, and pacemakers," but they specifically tell you NOT to check your messages or the time on your cell during a screening. "You think no one notices, but EVERYONE can see the annoying blue light!" I say, "Hear hear!"

Lou said...

And here I thought Kristofferson had died.

Vickie said...

Nope. Still very much alive. Still with teeeeeny, tiny eyes.

Lou said...

Yes. And not at all emaciated.

Linda said...

ohmygosh... I notice KK's small eyes, too! At least he doesn't have a stretched face like Kenny Rogers these days. :O