SIFF Notes 2003 Part 5

I saw 52 movies and three shorts packages in 25 days, up slightly from 2001. I saw seven great movies, and six awful ones. I saw 12 non-fiction films. Overall, the quality of the festival was good if mixed; I missed most of the films that fellow pass-holders rated best, but I also missed many of the worst. The Secret Festival was especially good this year. Three movies featured castration, which was not something I really needed to see. I volunteered for several Special Events, and it was certainly more fun to work at the Opening and Closing night parties than to attend them. I was one of the doorkeepers for the VIP room at Closing, which was fun in part because as a volunteer I couldn’t be fired or anything, so I just stuck to the letter of the instructions and got to refuse attendance to many many people.

I was also able to put some of the skills gained in China to use, particularly blocking out, as taught to me by little old ladies elbowing me out of the way at the bus stop. A surprising number of people attempted to walk behind me at full speed into the VIP room, and when I simply stepped back and asked for their tickets they would calmly make up an excuse as though they routinely tried and failed to crash parties and then they would leave. And so I'm not going to volunteer for any parties next year, because what the hell is the point of donating free labor to ensure that celebrities and "important people" have a private room to themselves to reassure each other how important they are? It's disappointing to see how utterly mainstream, establishment, star-worshipping the festival core group is. I suppose that's the inevitable path for the 29th year of what is now the biggest film festival in North America, but it's still disappointing. Anyway, I saw a lot of movies and a few of them were extremely moving and I never would have seen them otherwise and I recommend you try and see them, especially: The Cuckoo, House of Fools, To Be and To Have, the fourth Secret Movie, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Spring Subway, Respiro, and my festival favorite, Pingpong.