What is a day in the life of a critic like during a film festival, particularly if you go to every session? Essentially it's about running yourself ragged, hoping you eat enough to keep up energy, drinking enough water to stay hydrated without needing to visit the limited number of urinals and stalls in the theater's single bathroom, and keeping your eyes open through it all.
Although walkways can be cramped, this event is relatively easy to navigate, especially for pass holders. Free, validated parking is available underneath the shopping center and in a nearby overflow lot with shuttle service. All the films are shown at the same location, and a food court, disgusting as it may be after a few days, is a short walk away.
That being said, sitting on one's fanny all day is harder than it sounds. Although the seats aren't high-backed stadium models, they are reasonably well padded. It's just sitting in them for as long as I do that makes them seem less comfortable. I've learned that rolling up part of my coat can give me a nice headrest.
Here is my log of one day-plus at the festival.March 1412:02 a.m.:
Finish hotel check-in process after a six-film day. (Midnight screenings are only for the weekends.)12:55 a.m.:
After doing my daily entry for this site, it's time for bed.7:45 a.m.:
Get wake up call. Grateful that no one is on the other end, unlike when the John Goodman-voiced Red the Bobblehead
awakened Red Roof Inn
On the road. Eat two coconut donuts I purchased at Dunkin' Donuts
on the way back to the hotel the night before. The franchise has little presence in Columbus, so I enjoy getting these particular donuts when up here.8:41 a.m.:
Highway traffic becomes stop-and-go.8:48 a.m.:
The regular flow of traffic resumes.8:58 a.m.:
Park underneath Tower City Center
and head to the theaters.9:15 a.m.:
Knit in the dimly lit theater. Shortly before I put it away I get someone commenting about my knitting
.9:30 a.m.: First film
Scraggly looking guy comes in late, takes the seat next to me, and spreads out like he owns the joint. This could be a long day.11:03 a.m.:
First film ends.11:20 a.m.:
Write notes about first film.11:30 a.m.: Second film
Another late arriver, this time an older woman who sits in the row in front of me. Not to sound uncharitable, but she brings with her an undeniable stench that is a mixture of the fecal and the chemical. My best effort to block the smell is to pull my sweater over my nose.1:03 p.m.:
In line at Master Wok in the food court for lunch.1:22 p.m.:
Take a seat for the next film.1:45 p.m.: Third film
Start struggling to stay awake, even if it's just closed eyes for ten or fifteen second stretches.2:30 p.m.:
Feel like I've regained my legs, although I still have to fight off sleep for the next thirty minutes.3:30 p.m.:
Third film ends.3:40 p.m.:
Buy some cookies
to stash in my messenger bag. I try not to eat too much during the festival, but having something small to snack on between films is a necessity.3:43 p.m.:
Buy Hi-C orange drink
from McDonald's. I'm feeling thirsty and in need of a little pick-up. What could be better than the beverage of choice for summer camps and kids' church gatherings?4:00 p.m.:
Take my seat for the next film. Write notes from previous films.4:07 p.m.:
Knit.4:45 p.m.: Fourth film
begins. While it's nothing special in filmmaking terms, it is my favorite of the day and of the fest to this point.6:23 p.m.:
regular roast beef sandwich. That's supper. Take it with me as I head back to get in line for film #5.6:35 p.m.:
Claim my seat for the film and read USA Today
. While attendance has been pretty good during the day, things pick up for the evening sessions, especially on the weekend. As a pass holder, I should be guaranteed a seat until fifteen minutes prior to the film's start. I prefer to sit near the back on the side, ideally in one of the two-seat rows. The idea is to be able to get out of the theater as quickly as possible at film's end before the mass exodus. That's very important in this case, which has two sold-out houses for the film unspooling in forty minutes.7:15 p.m.: Fifth film
begins. I feel slightly drowsy at times but am generally in good shape.8:50 p.m.:
Walk around Tower City Center to shake off the rust that has accumulated by this point in the day. I discover that sports scores are displayed on a monitor in the RTA station, so I look down at it to find out how the Blue Jackets
are faring tonight.9:12 p.m.:
Take seat for next film.9:30 p.m.: Sixth film
With another movie down, I walk around again and check out the final score of the hockey game.11:01 p.m.:
I sit down at a table on the periphery of the food court for some knitting time. (Security refuses to let anyone sit in that area once the shopping center is closed.) A festival volunteer stops to see what I'm doing. We have a brief chat.11:37 p.m.:
Find my seat for the last movie and resume knitting.March 1512:00 a.m. Seventh film
begins. I check my watch frequently and consider leaving several times. I'm feeling tired, and my feet have had enough of being in shoes for this long.1:55 a.m.
Stagger out of the last film of the day, my thirteenth in two days. End up running into a friend/colleague who just got back from the film portion of South by Southwest
and will be here the next couple days. We talk for a short time before heading our separate ways.2:25 a.m.
Back at the hotel, the internet isn't working. It's probably just as well because I need to sleep.2:35 a.m.
Go to bed.8:00 a.m.
Answer the wake up call to repeat this madness again.
For what it's worth, I rarely write full reviews of the films I see at this festival simply because I see so much (and it's not like anyone is paying me to provide that type of coverage). I will do some brief write-ups of what I saw, although as you might imagine, there's not enough time to do this while at the event.
Note-taking is essential because it's hard to remember critical observations. I attended 45 sessions and saw 43 films in eight days. (I walked out of a midnight film that wasn't doing it for me and didn't see the completion of another because the DVD, which was showing due to a missing print, froze an hour in.) The story particulars can usually be gleaned elsewhere if needed.
Of course, you might be wondering if pushing myself to the limit like this is worth it. Yes and no. On the positive side, I tend to see plenty of good films that I may not come across elsewhere. (Travel expenses aside, I'm doing this for free with a media pass.) It is also good to get away for a few days. On the other hand, there are times when I feel pretty dreadful and struggle mightily to stay awake. I overdid it this year, but spring break at work begins tomorrow, so I have time to recuperate without being too busy at the office.
If you're wondering, I've provided links (but not names) of the movies in an attempt to limit crossover with my film site. Feel free to ask any questions you might have about this experience. It was fun, but I'm glad it's over...except for the written recaps.
Labels: film, knitting in public, on the road