Fantastic Fest

Friday, September 21, 2007

My first day at Summer Camp

Day One was full of lots of work and as many movies as I could cram in between other duties.

There's been a lot of preparation to get ready for the fest and everyone here has been working so hard that there's that great moment of relief when everything kicks off and things go well. And then the few problems that do arise are small and easily dealt with. So, my big time compliments to everybody who has worked so hard on this. I can't even start mentioning names but they know who they are.

In the afternoon I went down to check out a bit of the party but unfortunately I missed my colleague Zack getting a 400 psi blast of guts to the nuts. I understand the outpouring of concern almost drowned out the laughter.

Later, I got to meet George Romero, who was just kind of hanging out with fans and staff. He was about the friendliest, coolest guy you can imagine. It must have taken a huge amount of determination and hard work to make the movies he's made outside the Hollywood system and he came a cross as very funny, very intelligent and very tough minded with a little bit of the cynicism that you often find in the most human people. He's also very tall, which I've never heard mentioned. I'm in the tall business myself so I know what I'm talking about.

I didn't watch DIARY OF THE DEAD because there was such great demand for it that I would be taking away someone else's seat so I did a little work and then checked out HELL'S FEVER, a movie that we came to us from Rome's Fantafestival with a chest full of medals. We weren't sure what to expect because the screeners came in late and we hadn't had a chance to evaluate it! Oh my, it was lots of fun in the Weird Wednesday/Terror Thursday mold. I can see how fans of movies like LADY TERMINATOR and DANGEROUS MEN would love this. To say it shocked and delighted the crowd would be an understatement. When it was over, few could believe what they had just seen.

Afterwards there was an excited klatch in the lobby over movies everyone had seen. Those of us who were evangelizing about HELL'S FEVER kept getting blank stares from people who had just watched DIARY OF THE DEAD. But I had to get ready for the Bruce Lee Lookalike contest I was to host before FINISHING THE GAME. I got the prizes together from our friends at HOG WILD, BACKSPIN RECORDS and THE AUSTIN KUNG FU ACADEMY and then I watched to crowd pour in - not a Bruce Lee costume among them. So I decided to make it a Bruce Lee Yell-alike contest. You can see the results here.

FINISHING THE GAME was a very light mockumentary that had its moments. Total fiction of course but there were some barbs among the laughs about Hollywood's - and the culture's at large treatment of Asians. But for the most part, a very broad comedy that kept the audience laughing.

I was pretty knocked out but I decided to stay and watch THE FERRYMAN, which was a surprising and unusual movie. The performances and direction were very good, there were some very subtle touches involving tricky and difficult-to-convey plot points. Towards the end it becomes more like an exploitation film but that's A-OK with me. One thing about this film, there's an American character who looks and acts like a young George Bush. Intentional? Who can say?

Then sleep. Then waking up and worrying about little details. Then more sleep.


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