The famed festival city just wrapped up its 64th international film festival, one of the oldest grand standing international film festivals in the world. I caught only the leg of things, and besides a minor and confusing swarm awaiting band members from The Kings of Leon, I would never have thought there was a festival, let alone a film festival, going on in town.
Catching the last programme of animated shorts, a highly underrated medium and always a good barometer in judging a festival’s comprehension of its mediums’ potentials, I was pleasantly surprised by the calibre of the animation, but sorely missed any discussion to elucidate and debate the films or the medium. There was a huge party afterwards taking over three floors of The Teviot, the oldest purpose built Student Union Building in the world, but the party was hyped as exclusive, and yet, it was not special in anyway.
In a way, that summarized the festival as a whole, as a lot of hype was given to the “star” power of the festival, which is actually quite boring unless you have the films and programming to back it up.
I readily admit I am tainted when it comes to film festivals, as my first experience was spoiled rotten by The Telluride Film Festival, where I participated in the student symposium and returned again as a volunteer. Films were programmed all day and night, as were panels and thought provoking Q&A’s lined up throughout the festival. “Stars” were around the town, but no body cares, as it’s actually about going to a remote location to share in a mutual passion for cinema. To see everyone from renowned scholars, critics, directors, and producers running from one screening to another because they really wanted to see the new 35mm print of a classic George Cukor film, it’s these bursts of authentic cinephilia that will remain a lasting impression of what a film festival is all about.