The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

ain'ts, innsers
Well, I made it downtown for the Saints and Sinners IV filmfest. I left after about two and a half hours, after taking in the opening feature film and three or four of the short films that followed.

It was not exactly Cannes.

I said it would be a schlockfest; I don't think that covers it. We're talking total, complete amateur hour here. The feature was unintentionally funny, with the director and cinematographer (probably the same guy) apparently never hearing of closeups, scene cuts, lighting, segues or any of the other things you take for granted in a movie. The acting wasn't there, which was about right since I doubt there was much of a script there either. The director tried to get around all this by making the story a cross between The Blair Witch Project and Cops, with requisite amateur videocam look; didn't work. The shorts were just plain goofy. The last one's gimmick was that it was made as part of a competition to make a short film, from start to finish, in seven days or less; the filmmakers seemed to take pride in having made their in only two days. My only reaction to that is, speed is not a selling point when it comes to filmmaking, and doesn't necessarily portend a successful film career.

I'm not going to bother to name names; the link to the festival website will tell you what films were shown when. Rest assured you're not going to be seeing these things in a theater near you soon, nor even on the Internet Movie Database.

I said it wasn't Cannes. I wasn't expecting that, or anything near it. In a sense, I feel a little guilty criticizing what are obviously unpolished labors of love and, hopefully, stepping stones toward better work. On the other hand, they can't present their work to audiences and not expect critiques; that's really the purpose of a show like this, or should be. But obviously, it's not for me. There are bad movies, and then there are no-money, no-talent, no-skill presentations like these. I consider them the same way I do minor-league and (even more apropos) high-school athletics: They're painful baby steps that may be necessary links in the game, but that doesn't mean I have to watch them.

The crowd was pretty pathetic. This may have been because it was early, and the bigger audiences would be coming at night. But I'm not so sure... It looked to me that most of the audience consisted of the filmmakers and their entourages, such as they were. Really not much mingling either, which was another reason for my going. It might be just as well, as I'm not sure I would have had much fun dissing somebody over his movie right to his face.

It's safe to say I won't be attending another one of these, barring a radical revamp (the venue and operations were firmly amateur as well). I'll stick to the polished products--at least, more polished.