Sunday, March 01, 2015
Of Crazy 8's
I've been at many fantastic and unusual film screenings where only a pittance of people turned up, finding myself sitting in audiences of four or five cinemagoers, watching fantastic movies in a more-or-less empty house. This has happened far too often.
I've found myself having to explain to people even in the last year where the Vancity Theatre is, what it is, and why people should go see movies there. (In fairness, at this point, the people who still do not know that cinema probably don't know where the Cinematheque is, either).
I've seen many sold-out screenings at the Vancity and the Cinematheque, mind you, but I haven't always understood why people turn out in droves for one movie - some topical documentary, say - while passing on fresher and more inventive cinema. It seems like Vancouver attendees are by-and-large middlebrow middleclass types, who like socially-self-important cinema that flatters their moral perspectives, rather than, say, challenging, critiquing, or confusing them. One of the words I would never use to describe the majority of film audiences in this town is adventuresome.
Then I go to the Crazy 8's gala - because my girlfriend and her coworkers are all going, to show support for one of them who worked on a film in the event, and because I've never gone and am curious. The idea is simple - beginning filmmakers compete to win a small prize and work with a production team, to complete a short movie in 8 days. When Erika first mentioned it, I got it confused with an event that, as I recall, used to go down at VIVO, where a couple of dozen experimental filmmakers would turn out to show each other Super 8 films. I remember Alex MacKenzie competing in one such event. I think I went to one once.
Okay, sure, I'll go to that.
But no. Crazy 8's is NOT an experimental film competition. If anyone in the competition knew the work of Stan Brakhage, say, it was in no way apparent. Judging by last night's films - six of them played - it's a competition of narrative film. Some are playful and subversive in some ways (the amusing queer Cinderella film The Twisted Slipper, say). Some are shot by people who probably have a future in narrative cinema, if the skill of their assembly is any indication (like One Last Ride). A few of them have notable actors attached, like Cameron Bright in Outside the Lines - a film that could have been developed into something bigger, that was more interesting than its short form could do justice to. And one of them was a perfect, funny, delightful experience unto itself - The Wolf Who Came to Dinner. All in all, it was an entertaining presentation of six polished but more or less student-level films.
1700 people came to it. Granted, there was an afterparty with a chocolate fountain and a performance by No Sinner, a fine Vancouver band whose lead singer Colleen Rennison appeared in one of the movies (One Last Ride). One of the two hosts, Diana Bang, was a very visible presence in The Interview, as well. There were opportunities to schmooze, to dress up, and to celebrate the ambitions of your friends and colleagues, all of which are good things; and the films were fun to watch - even the ones I have neglected to link above.
However: 1700 people? This makes it the single best-attended film event I have been to in Vancouver (or anywhere!) in my life. For short films by relative unknowns! It's great, it's great, it's a good event, and I had a good time. And the $30 was worth it if you include the band and the free chocolate. But in all honesty folks, I don't get it. 1700 people? ...Somebody explain this to me?