Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Get Yer Fresh Blog Here

Anybody still out there?

This film festival thing is hard; I always forget how much work is involved in an event of this scale. I've managed to survive two days of workshop co-ordination -- thank god, most of them have been pretty self-sufficient so far -- but I'm dreading tomorrow. I had to set up 18 interviews for workshop attendees; we had a facilitator drop out at the last minute; we had a panel moderator cancel; and people keep coming up with stuff they forgot to tell me to do, changes they forgot to inform me about. I'm starting to feel like the fire department... rushing from emergency to emergency, beating back the flames and restoring order just as the next alarm goes off.

The mornings are the worst. It's like everybody wants everything first thing, and they want it done right now! The phone rings and rings and rings and rings... people call up, and they want us to explain every single f-ing film we're showing. We call it Moviefone duty. I know the old platitude about there not being any dumb questions... but trust me, there are some dumb, dumb questions floating around in the collective unsconscious, just waiting for somebody to part their lips and take a breath.

We had a minor drama yesterday. A woman -- who shall remain nameless, but who happens to be the executive director of Women Make Movies -- led a workshop, and before I begin, let me say that it was a good and worthy workshop. The problem was that she said something rather impolitic during it. She had sent us a number of handouts she wanted copied in advance, which we did, with one exception: a list of film festivals which neglected to include this one. Since that smacks of promoting other festivals without promoting the host festival, it was requested that the handout be altered to include us. This was done, the handout was copied, and all seemed well with the world.

At least until Ms. Zimm... er... the workshop leader... protested. She said that including our festival on the handout would "negatively impact the integrity" of said handout.

Now, don't get me wrong: I understand her reasoning. But the way she went about expressing it kinda caught in the craw of the festival director. The handout was changed back and replaced; as a compromise, a second list of genre-specific festivals (including this one) was also included. Nobody was exactly thrilled, but everyone was satisfied. Peace reigned again.

Until Ms. Zimmerma... I mean, the workshop leader... opened her cake-hole during the workshop.

She was speaking of festivals. She had a funny anecdote to tell. The anecdote, it turned out, was about the hilarious attempt of this festival to have itself listed on her handout. The audience couldn't have been a more sensitive one for the festival -- it was predominantly made up of visiting filmmakers and a couple of press people. Everyone laughed -- the ridiculousness of it, this festival wanting to be acknowledged! Ha! Hilarious!

She ended her amusing tale by saying it was "nothing against the festival" which was "great," but "just not that kind of festival." (Sort of a New York version of "bless her heart" as a way to dull the edge of a particularly catty insult.)

And she was right. It's not that kind of festival.

But she didn't have to say it that way.

It added nothing to the conversation. We had accomodated her, we had given her what she wanted, she should have left it at that. She said she was "just being honest," which wasn't untrue, but we all knew there was more to it than that: we were being put in our place. We knew it and resented it; I'm certain she knew it too, on some level, even if she didn't acknowledge it as such.

How dare we reach above our station? How do we have the chutzpah to even suggest such a thing?

Anyway, the festival director was less than pleased. Nothing was made of it, but it was noted. She won; we were gently bitch-slapped; that's the way things work. Thus endeth the lesson.

But it's still an ugly thing.
8:11 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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