Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One Day of Rest

I can not be everything to everybody, and I can't see nearly as many movies as I would like. After a shit day at work (such a shame I need an income), I decided I needed a good meal, a shower and an evening away from St Anthony Main. My report so far for the Festival: pretty good. Here are just a few of my thoughts on MSPIFF '08 so far:
  • Those poor employees at the St Anthony Theater. It goes without saying that most people get their britches in a bunch before they even consider thanking these people. Although screenings aren't always sold out, the theater is really busy. It is definitely managed chaos with the staff doing everything in their power to make things go smoothly.
  • Alexandra was shown on video. That really sucks. It was good quality video, but the color scheme of the film is so specific, that I can't help but think I was missing some of the richness of the image. Seriously not okay. Especially since format is not noted anywhere. Just the fact that most are 35mm makes the fact that Alexandra was on video just that much more painful.
  • Mahamat-Saleh Haroun will not be present for the Dry Season screening due to visa problems. Does everyone know how easy it is for Americans to get visas almost anywhere? Does everyone know how hard it is for everyone else to get a visa to the US? Totally stupid. Just to secure the fact that my bag and person will always be search, even though it is anyway: I hate US Immigration.
  • Postman From Shangri-La was perhaps the biggest head scratcher so far. Where the hell did this film come from and why is it being screened? Because I had never heard of this film and I'm supposed to be something of an authority, at least at home, on Mainland film, I decided to go to this screening. Not only was it subpar in content, but it was screened from one of the worst quality DVDs I've seen, and I have seen some bad ones. To make things worse, you get to dramatic epicenter of the film at a pivotal scene and whoops! the DVD freezes!
  • Box of Surprises? There is something kind of endearing about the fest trailer(s) so I can't condemn it like I would like to. But I'm definitely hoping there are more than just two versions.
  • Awesome list: The Way I Spent the End of the World, You, The Living, Son of Rambow, Alexandra, And Along Came the Tourists.
There are ten days left in the Fest (I counted) and there is still plenty to be excited about. I've seen eleven films, and hope to see about 20 more before it is all said and done. Although it may sound like a disclaimer, I mean it when I say that despite some groaning on my part, the Festival is an amazing undertaking on everyone's part and I am just as thankful for the misses as I am the hits.


Anonymous said...

The format issue is definitely a problem. The screening format of all films should be noted in the program. And I think at a festival of this size, video should be avoided wherever possible.

Frankly, I guess it's impressive that the festival is able to happen at all given the sorry state of Minnesota Film Arts as an organization. I'm thankful for the festival, but I'm still anxious to see what comes of the Oak Street/Bell fallout and year-round film programming from the MFA, which should be sustained and expanded, not killed off.

Thanks for all your festival coverage!

Jeanne said...

Anonymous, have you ever run a film festival that has 140 films? I'm wondering if you know what it takes to get all these films, in a specific format, and with English subtitles.

A lot.

A few years ago, I volunteered for MFA during MSPIFF time (it was during the Jamie year), and I was awed at what they had to do to get films into the US (customs can be a bit of a nightmare).

Folks there definitely appreciate seeing film ON film. But sometimes a DVD is all you can get.

The Alexandra DVD was horrific, but that was the only DVD I saw with problems--the handful others I saw (out of, as of tonight's counting, 47 films I saw) were as perfect as a DVD can get. On the other hand, film often had crappy prints or problems with sound and needed a kind of babysitting that the theater couldn't provide when one projectionist quit in the middle of the festival.

More than once I had to leave the theater to find someone to fix a problem with film.

But I'm grateful to get to see many of these films at all. I can't tell you how many films I've wanted to see a second time and could never find on DVD and would never play again in the Twin Cities.

Kathie, I wish I could have met you, though I bet I saw you!

Kathie Smith said...

Postman in Shangri-la DVD - terrible. That DVD should have never been shown, period.

I am more than aware how complicated it is to track down prints (in some cases, the only festival print out there) and schedule it with everyone else who wants it, and I'm sure anonymous is aware of that as well.

Sometimes a DVD is all you can get. And in some cases I don't think it really matters. But that was definitely not the case with Alexandra.

In no way am I saying that the folks at MFA are lazy just because they show some things on video. It's been a strong festival. I just think some poor decisions were made.

Kathie Smith said...

More to the point, format should have been listed somewhere, either online or in the catalog.

Jeanne said...

Would you not have gone to see Alexandra if you'd known ahead of time it was on DVD?

Kathie Smith said...

If it was playing against something else I wanted to see that was on film, (which was probably the case) yes, I would have skipped Alexandra.