Monday, October 25, 2010

Finding Your Festival Pace

I looked in my partner's eyes. "Go on without me," I breathed. "Leave me behind. I don't have the strength. Promise me you'll keep going."

Tenderly she said, "Leslie, it's just a damn movie."

It wasn't just one movie. It was umpteen movies. The Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival had worn me out. Anne turns into a cinema Energizer Bunny over those 10 days, hopping from theater to theater. By Day 7, I was hanging on to her bunny tail.

As a result, I now know how to attack the festival more pragmatically. Here's my advice on pacing yourself so you can get the most out of any major gay film festival without turning into something on the cutting room floor.

The first thing you do is get hold of the festival program. Such choices! Such variety! Such a pain to get to the early movies from work! You might consider quitting your job. That would certainly be a form of pacing yourself. But don't do it, or you won't be able to pay for any of this.

That brings us to tickets. Should you buy a pass for the whole festival, or pay for movies individually? For now, figure out the rough number of movies you want to see. Then do the math. Which route is cheaper? If it's reasonably close, buy the pass. You'll be helping the festival and guaranteeing I can't call you a tightwad.

You'll also make things a little easier on yourself. One of the perks of the festival pass here in Seattle is the pass-holders' line. People in that line are admitted early. They get their choice of seats, and don't have to worry about a film being sold out. Anybody in that line can lay off Xanax for a week.

Since I'm trying to make the festival experience comfy, know that if you have a pass to the whole shebang, you can attend all the receptions that are held after the bigger movies. That way, if you missed dinner in your hurry to get to the movie, you can eat. And drink. Comfy yet?

Now it's time for the nitty-gritty, which movies you see. Scan the catalog and mark in a bold color the ones you really want to see. Mark in a less bold color the ones you sort of want to see. Remember, you're aiming not to overdo and exhaust yourself, so choose judiciously.

If you plan to attend the films with someone else, forget everything I just said.

Only when you're attending the festival alone can you choose the perfect schedule. If you're going with a partner or friends, compromise is required. Along with the occasional game of rock, paper, scissors.

Don't assume you and your other half are in sync on the film festival, no matter how long you've been together. On the festival's second day, it unfolded that I thought we'd see three films, but Anne had figured on four. She was aghast at missing a movie; I was aghast at never seeing daylight.

If you agree on your schedule before the festival starts, you improve your chances of achieving a civilized pace. And a civilized relationship.

The bottom line is everyone's taste and stamina differ. In one evening Anne will happily see a Danish lesbian documentary, transgender shorts and a gay male Peruvian feature. After such an evening I might not know where I am. Or who.

Come to think of it, our different movie-going appetites might make a good short film. Anne and I should make one. If we can agree on the pace.