So, what are the Secret Screenings at T/F, which I mentioned at the end of my post on Day 1? Each year, the festival features a number of untitled screenings coded with a color. These are films yet to have their scheduled world premieres or films trying to keep their number of public screenings at a minimum, as enforced by some big international film festivals. You can read more about this practice here. The presence of these films makes T/F quite special. In order to continue having such important films at T/F, the ‘honor code of silence’ around them must be respected! That’s why I cannot review Secret Screening Green, which I attended last night, and Secret Screening Silver and Gold, which I saw today. (But I think I’m not breaking the rule if I say that, although I enjoyed Silver, I didn’t find any of them particularly striking).
True/False hasn’t really begun until March March, the festival’s festive, circus-like parade, livens up downtown with its variety of wacky costumes, fire jugglers, drum beats, trombones, hula hopperrs, and whatever people’s creativity comes up with. The march ends at the Missouri Theater, where Reality Bites kicks in – before next film.
At Reality Bites, Lux, Silver Circle and Super Circle passholders can sample a variety of appetizers prepared by Columbia’s finest restaurants. If they arrive early enough. Because 30-40 minutes after the beginning of the party, the food on the first floor, prepared by Room 38, was gone.
I can’t stand lines. I don’t understand them. It doesn’t matter that I’ve lived in this country for about 18 years now. Lines just don’t make sense. Consequently, I didn’t patiently stand in line outside the theater before the doors were opened and people were let in. I just entered 10 minutes later. Once inside, I didn’t want to be in line to get my food (what? Are we at a hunger-relief charity?!) So, I went upstairs first – where I tasted many delicious appetizers while sipping a glass of French red wine. When I returned downstairs, it looked like there was still a line. I couldn’t but accept my destiny at this point, and started moving with the line, grabbed a beer from the Schlafly table while approaching the buffet. Which was now cleared. Food gone – except for a big bowl of bacon cashew caramel corn tossed with cayenne and rock salt (just writing it makes me roll my eyes). Dear Room 38, if you offer a buffet for all those passholders and the party is scheduled to go from 5:15 to 7:00pm, it seems quite wrong that all your yummy preparations were gone at about 5:50pm. Just saying. Anyhow, my stomach was quite full and content with all other restaurant’s samples.
Then there was Greg Barker‘s Manhunt, whose earlier doc, Sergio, was screened at T/F in 2009. Manhunt premiered at Sundance this past January.
The Friday film at the Missouri Theater following Reality Bites marks the festival’s opening night, when both festival’s organizers, or, as they define themselves, ‘co-conspirators’, Paul Sturtz and David Wilson, appear on stage for a welcoming speech.
And other surprises may occur before the film. Like the Chicago rock’n’roll marching band Mucca Pazza, back to T/F for the fourth time after a 5-year hiatus.
The ensemble features more than 20 different instruments along with cheerleaders, and includes instruments not traditionally in a marching band, such as an accordion.
Mucca Pazza opened the March March and played a concert, free for all T/F passholders, at The Blue Note later tonight. On the stage of the Missouri Theater, they entertained our ears and eyes with uplifting and original tones, including a ‘marching tango.’ Not to be missed if they play near you!
Manhunt, a piece of investigative journalism that aligns with other recent documentaries such as Richard Rowley’s Dirty Wars (also at T/F), lets CIA agents recount the espionage war that lead to assassinate Osama bin Laden. Rating: 3/5. Because, after all, Manhunt is an ‘official story.’ Torture, yeah, just a slap, and waterboarding – not that much, not really an issue. The traditional (television) documentary technique of talking heads intermingles with graphics reproducing whiteboards filled with data and headshots. The flow chart becomes increasingly complex as more terrorists are connected one to another. And, honestly, a little trite after the tenth time you’ve seen it. The group of women which from many descriptions and reviews of the film I thought would have been at the center of the film actually was not. The ‘boys’ have been given considerably larger screening time in Barker’s film. In conclusion, just another piece of propaganda?
After Manhunt, I attended Campfire Stories, where a number of filmmakers gather around a ‘campfire’ to swap tales about their films. This year’s theme was the scene that got away. Before the event started, the audience was offered homemade s’mores, with graham crackers from Uprise Bakery, marshmallows from The Wine Cellar & Bistro and Missouri-shaped chocolates from The Candy Factory. It was good but, I have to say, atrociously sweet for my Italian taste buds.
Jarred Alterman, co-director with Paul Sturtz (one of the two festival co-conspirators) of the short Dear Valued Guests, on the former Regency Hotel in town, gave us some funny background about the Regency and the filming days, including the theft of a plastic statue of Santa. Sarah Gravon, director of Village at the End of the World (which I reviewed yesterday), told us of family secrets that were revealed during the filming of the documentary (about Lars’ father). Emma Davies spoke of a ‘lost tape’ that the dying protagonist of I Am Breathing recorded but that she could not watch for fear that it would have been too painful.
It’s my fourth T/F and it was my first time at Campfire Stories. I enjoyed it, as a nice interruption to the visual overdose that a film festival can be. It would be nice to know the lineup of the directors who show up, to decide whether we want to attend or not.
One more event for this busy Friday: the @ction Party! A small nightclub, the Tonic, becomes an artsy dance floor like no other. It’s a must go. Even for a short time, like I did. Even for a just one more beer (yes, free, again. How awesome is a film festival that offers drinks to all passholders?) and a few dances.
After three films, two parties, and much more, including delightful conversations with old and new friends, I was ready to call it a night. Just to discover that my car was towed. Or at least, I assumed so, as the (incompetent) police office who answered my call could not help me…