Monday, April 6, 2009

SENE wrap up

Apologies to all who hail from Providence, but I found it a very odd town.

A respectable crew turned up for the SENE screening of "Tower 37" on Saturday night including Evan, Bishop, and Kevin who hipped and hopped their way down with me via car, Jeremy via train from Boston, and Jake who drove on his own. We got comfortable in the hotel room before walking to the Cable Car Cinema to get our bearings. Not a human being on the street. It was like someone took this nice city and just asked everyone to stay inside for a few hours.

We hunted for food after finding the theater, and a woman at an enormous (but also empty) bar steered us in the right direction. Thankfully, that direction was away from her own basement-of-a-fraternity-smelling establishment.

A massive Indian meal, complete with celebratory toasts and the requisite telling of humiliating stories, primed us for the 7:00 screening of live action shorts. At SENE the audience got to vote via a creative little square of paper which you would maul in the right place to identify your selections. Anyway, the theater was great (every other row had comfy couches) but the show was a mixed bag. Our crew reached easy consensus behind the two foreign films, Uriasul and Land Gewinnen, with the latter being our favorite of that block.

Tower 37 was in the 9:30 block, along with 8 other shorts that were animated in some fashion. If you count puppets as animated. Throughout the first screening, the projectionist would correct the DVD/projector settings to accommodate the authoring of the various DVDs (so that a 4:3 or 16:9 disk would properly fill the frame). That guy was absent during our show, which we sadly discovered when Tower 37 played. The film was both too quiet and was zoomed too far in, so we only got to see the middle 70% of the frame.

I credit the young and friendly director of "Escapism," which is also showing alongside Tower 37 in Newport Beach later this month, with the most savvy line of the night after I told him of our projection mishap: "Yeah, I was going to say that was some pretty daring staging." It took me at least 5 years of teaching before I could say stuff like that off the cuff! I was impressed with his maturity (and sense of staging - our film looked way too claustrophobic, alas).

The crew had a more lively debate about this batch, one that continued into wee hours of the night and even on the drive home. We all did love "Symphony" for its impeccable craft. I didn't actually cast any vote for Tower 37 because I was morally conflicted. Well, I also had my ballot taken away and cast by Bishop while I was chatting with other filmmakers. But I'll take the moral high ground.

Another slow wander through a still-dead town led us to the after party. Okay, one drunken passenger in a passing car did actually stick his head out of the window and ask us for directions to a strip club. When we said we had no idea, we had our sexuality questioned in a way that could only be considered grade school. With grade school so far in the past for most of us, it was much more funny than intimidating. And with such limited contact with the people of Providence (if they actually do exist, since this guy was clearly from out of town), we took what human contact we could get.

The party was loud, probably because it was on a relatively small mezzanine near the speakers in a fairly skinny bar. We loved that the chandelier right near our table looked like the harp from "Bohemibot," but we suspect that it cost a lot less to produce. The founders brought a mic and a bunch of awards, and while we didn't get the $1000 prize (kudos to "Larry and Roz" for that), we were the happy recipients of the SENE Founders' Award. Here's the cell phone shot I sent to producer Daniel right after receipt (the cool plexi thing was too hard to shoot, I'll see if Evan got some versions of it on his camera):

Note that I've tried to properly punctuate Founders' appropriately in this post, even though I think their apostrophe-free version on the award is much cleaner looking.

The night that remained took place in the hotel room. There were ongoing debates about the best and worst moments of the two screenings we caught, some musical improvisations, Kevin pitching his latest short idea from a perch high atop a bed, and finally sleep. We left town the next morning (still no one outside), and almost had to return, but thankfully Jeremy's people skills allowed him to borrow his way to a train ticket. Hope you find your bank card, sir.

It was a memorable festival and I hope the SENE folks have continued success in the future. I'm sad now that I can't attend all the festivals, but I am excited for our upcoming local screenings at IFFBoston and Hollywood East, I'm glad that Daniel and Andrew can attend Newport Beach. There's another fest on the horizon that's likely to be a similar reunion/party/celebration that will merit its own post soon.

1 comment:

Josh M. said...

This reminds me of the various festival quirks that I experienced in 2005. It's cool to hear that you are all enjoying the afterglow after years of effort. For what it's worth, some friends of mine moved back to the valley after two years in Providence and they also found it quite odd.