No doubt there are a lot of people who LOVE movies. There are, I’m quite confident, many people who see far more movies and know much more about them than I do. Films haven’t moved me more profoundly (or even all that differently, I’m sure) than they have many, many other people. But, the fact remains I am not, nor have I ever been, indifferent about films. They have always been important to me (and my family). Movies have not just been in my life, they intersect my living.
Films bookmark the passage of time and the moments when time refuses to pass. Films helped to raise me, a two-dimensional, but multifaceted, long-lost 4th sibling, there to teach, comfort, socialize and yes, sometimes, just entertain. Films whisper secrets and give me hope and show me new perspectives. Some of the most amazing things in my life and the deepest emotions I have ever experienced are wrapped up tightly in memories made of celluloid.
I remember being allowed to stay up late to watch The Wizard of Oz and doing so, sitting on the floor in front of the TV, clutching my blanket, one eye open, so tired, but compelled to get to the end, needing that happy ending, waiting for the Technicolor to finally fade back to shades of gray. I remember vividly the first film I ever went to in a movie theater, my four-year old self mesmerized and a bit petrified at Maleficent’s transformation into a dragon during Sleeping Beauty.
Indeed, film has left indelible marks upon my skin. I cut my ankle on a sprinkler head taking a short cut through a parking strip when I was 12. I probably should have had stitches, the blood soaked sock was of course ruined, but I figure not missing the opening of Spaceballs was worth the scar. It’s a happy wound. Other cinematic accompanied injuries were not so visible, nor so welcome.
I remember watching Oklahoma, home sick the day the Challenger exploded and the movie being interrupted with the news. I remember watching Patton with my older brother a dozen times before I was old enough to understand it, before I knew it was real, and my grandfather had been there, and what he had survived and seen. And, I remember bailing on my movie buddy Aaron one night only to discover he went to the hospital hours later and never left, passing of a heart condition at the impossibly young 22.
I remember Edward Scissorhands being the first film I ever cried at in a theater, though I honestly couldn’t tell you why of all films, that one.
The Ring was the first movie I ever covered my eyes in and screamed out loud in a theater at, but in that case, I can tell you exactly why; it’s a freaking frightening film.
I remember watching Dead Again and gasping along with everyone else in the theatre at the words that changed everything.
I remember seeing The Sixth Sense and feeling both cheated and in awe at the first movie I hadn’t successfully predicted the ending to.
I’m reminded every time I get a cold that Raiders of the Lost Ark and Labyrinth are every bit as powerful as over the counter medication.
I remember seeing Run Lola Run and thinking OH, that’s film. And, then I remember seeing The Fall, and thinking oh, THAT’S film. And then, the 1926 silent film Faust and thinking, holy crap, so THAT’s FILM.
I’ve fallen for films, sometimes against my better judgment. Sometimes superficially. Sometimes deeply. They have seduced me like a lover, intimately taking me into myself, unearthing long suppressed vulnerabilities and discovering exciting power and possibilities within. The subconscious and ridiculously overly conscious parts equally attended to, stroked and calmed through cinematic courtship. Some I loved for a while, some a while longer. Some were eye candy, others…candy for the soul. Often the ones I loved so much proved confusing upon viewing years later. What DID I see in this film. No matter.
I remember falling in love with Leonardo DiCaprio in This Boys Life and falling out of love with him less than an hour into opening night of Titanic. I remember seeing Rhett and Scarlett in Gone with the Wind and thinking I want to BE kissed like that. And then, seeing Han and Leia in The Empire Strikes Back and thinking, I want to KISS like that.
And, of course films have always been there during the trials and tribulations of real love. My very first date I ever had in 7th grade was Beetlejuice. We sat in the back row. We shared a hot dog. We didn’t so much as even hold hands. We did however, both really like the movie. And, as it turned out, we both really liked boys, too. Years later, my first utterly devastating heart-break, more of a life-shattering, occurred after watching Lost in Translation. Though I understand neither one of them was directly to blame for the year it took me to recover from the end of my relationship,I only forgave Bill Murray; I’m still somehow holding a grudge against Miss ScarJo. Don’t ask.
All this to say, films have accented, underlined, punctuated and added so much depth to my life, I am exceedingly thankful that I was born in an era that gets to enjoy the art form. I never get tired of sitting in a theatre or putting in a DVD. There are as many stories as people and I want to know them all.
And then, there is Cinequest. And, probably many film festivals around the globe, but my own experiences with the film festival environment start and stop with Cinequest. A place where you can literally see hundreds of films inside of two weeks, some that no one has seen yet, aren’t even done in some cases, are the next big thing, and are launching careers alongside yes, a few films that no one will likely ever see again.
At Cinequest you get to see these films with other people who love film, who applaud at the end and in many cases are the filmmakers, cast and/or crew. And, you’ll be able to ask them questions, pick their brains, give them feedback, shape their futures, encourage and touch them with your stories and discuss everything you feel or don’t feel about what you saw, are seeing and will see. And what you want to see.
You will change your mind, you will get advice, you will change your mind again and you will absolutely revel in the resulting conversations and insight that will occur, spontaneously and constantly, throughout the festival (even for a relatively shy person like myself).
At Cinequest, you get to connect and reconnect with such a variety or folks, it kind of blows your mind that you have anything in common with them, but you do. And, it is powerful. And, that will thrill you and inspire you. It will awaken your creativity and then some.
At Cinequest, you drink beer. Or Vodka. And, you may well do it until all hours of the night. With the strangers who became your friends and who you noticeably miss when the festival comes to a close.
At Cinequest it is an honor and a privilege to be in a room where absolute truth, brilliance, humility, wit, intelligence and success is awarded, and being in its presence, hearing those words, a worm hole to your best future self might be opened, stirring you unexpectedly, brining your eyes to an unusual liquid state. Yes, you might find yourself eating lunch next to Neil Gaiman and thinking, I wonder if he has a clue that he just opened a damn worm hole! And, then thinking what it was he ordered to eat. And, did he like it.
Yes, there ARE a lot of stories and a lot of films are made and not many of them make it to theaters or online and THAT is a tragedy. Cinequest gives us, me, little old me, an opportunity to remedy that and actively participate in FILM. This year, after 4 years in attendance, I’m fully converted. Film always got me, but now, I finally get it. I get to be in a place that celebrates and fosters the very thing that I have never been indifferent about.