In the Land of Skank and Gutterboy
This weekend, thanks to my good friends at Mass Listeria Podcast (of which I am the newest member, so go listen!), I was able to attend the third annual Chattanooga Film Festival. Held in Chattanooga, TN, the film festival is the brainchild of Chris Dortch and has grown very quickly in size and scope. Offering a wide variety of programming, the festival has a little something for everyone, and in the next couple of weeks I am going to cover a couple of the best movies I watched at the fest, but this week I’m going to do a loose overview of my thoughts of the fest in general.
Opinions – Everybody’s got Two, or Four, or Six
After watching upwards of ten movies over three days, the most consistent through line with me and my co-conspirators is this; people can have wildly diverging views on the same movie. Now this might not be the most original point, but it was so glaring a few times throughout the weekend that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it.
A good example of this is a movie called Too Late. This is a film that I was greatly anticipating due to it’s cast and genre (film noir), but failed to move me in any way. My friend Daniel, on the other hand, listed it as one of his favorites of the fest, meanwhile Nathan and Tim fell somewhere in the middle. And this happened a lot of the time with us, and I bet it happens for most people at an event such as this.
Unlike Pokémon, you can’t Catch’em All
On the podcast last week (seriously, go listen to it. I’ll wait), I listed five things about the film fest I was excited about. I went to only one of these, and it was an event not a movie. The fact is timing and scheduling just didn’t allow for it. Much like panels at a comic convention you just can’t make it to all of the things you want to.
This, of course, is no fault of the festival. There is only so much time and so many slots to fill, so invariably there are films that can only screen once, films that overlap, and just too much material. If the biggest problem a person has at a film fest is too much good material to choose from, however, it’s a pretty nice problem to have.
Events, Events, Events
Be it Joe Bob Briggs doing a talk about rednecks in film, the guys from Bleeding Skull showing a homemade anthology horror film from 1993 called Scary Tales, or the pseudo cult initiation and psychedelic video presentation from Everything is Terrible, CFF really brought the noise. Even for the uninitiated, the festival had something for just about everyone as far as events go. There was even booth set up giving people free tattoos. Now what tattoos a person could get for free I’m not sure, but hey, it’s a free tattoo. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that, right?
If you’re a comics fan and have ever been to a convention, you know the feeling when you realize you are among a large group of people who share the same interests. In everyday life you might be the weirdo or the outsider, but at a convention you feel like you belong. No one is there passing judgment on you.
Being at the film festival was a similar experience for our group. Even if you don’t agree about everything, at least the people there understand your interest, and also seem genuinely interested in what you have to say. There is something to be said for communal experiences, and movies, along with musical performances, are probably as good as secular communal experiences get. CFF was a full weekend of these.
Get to the Point Already
So what does all of this mean? What’s the greater purpose of it all? Is Jubilation T. Cornpone really the Welcome to the Jungle of it’s time?
I guess the localized point would be, if you live in or around Chattanooga, TN this time next year, check out the festival. Mr. Dortch and all parties involved did a great job this year so I’m sure it will be even better next year. If you’re in the area, also check out Mise En Scenesters and Cine-Rama, Dortch and company’s year-round extension of the festival.
The larger purpose of this piece would be to impart to you to get out and support what you love. Batman VS. Superman is fine (it’s probably not, but I’m an optimist), but it’s going to do well whether you watch it in theaters or on Netflix a year from now. Some of the films shown at CFF, and at any other film festivals for that matter, might never get a wide theatrical release. Some of them might never get a full release at all. If you love film, and if you’re reading this you probably do, go out and support it every chance you get. Even the movies I didn’t love at the festival still deserve to find an audience. Go out and be that audience.
And yes, Jubilation T. Cornpone is the Welcome to the Jungle of 1959.
Until next time…