The Essay Question (Oct. 15, 2015)

Every couple of weeks, the OFCS polls its members with a question related to movies. It can be serious or amusing, but each member is given the opportunity to submit a short response to the question, which we will then post on Thursday mornings. Here is this week’s query.

Essay Question #22:

What is your favorite film festival to attend? What’s the best movie or most memorable moviegoing experience at that festival?

Question Submitted by: John Gilpatrick @ John Likes Movies


Robert Cashill @ Popdose
I’ve attended the New York Film Festival regularly since 1994. My favorite memory from that first festival was enjoying a midnight screening of ED WOOD, I think the first ever held. I also recall Gaspar Noe being loudly booed after a screening of his wretched I STAND ALONE in 1998, the only time I’ve heard catcalling at Alice Tully Hall.

Samuel Castro @
Por obvias razones, mi festival de cine favorito es el FICCI, el Festival Internacional de Cine de Cartagena, hoy en día uno de los más importantes de América Latina, no sólo porque sea en una de las ciudades más hermosas de mi país, sino porque el público puede asistir a las distintas funciones GRATIS, lo que lo convierte en un festival vital y lleno de energía. En la edición del 2014, tuve la experiencia más memorable, asistiendo como parte del grupo de colegas de todo el mundo que ganó la Beca García Márquez de periodismo cultural que otorga la FNPI. No sólo asistimos al festival, intercambiamos experiencias, compartimos cenas y charlas maravillosas, bajo la tutela de nuestros profesores, entre ellos Fernanda Solórzano y A.O.Scott, y pudimos tener reuniones privadas, sólo para el grupo de la beca, con Alejandro González Iñárritu, Pawel Pawlikowski y Abbas Kiarostami. Esos compañeros, hoy en día, son amigos repartidos en el mundo.

Kimberly Gadette @ doddle
Without question, the Cannes Film Festival. The international mix of it all, the importance (of the films, the auteurs and of course, the self-importance of the journalists!), the glamour, the glorious setting and, above all, the inherent sense that this particular film festival truly represents the beating heart of cinema.
Favorite film: The Artist.
1. The interview with Lars Von Trier on Melancholia that caused him to get kicked out of the festival!
2. Walking, or at times rushing, down the cobblestone streets to the Palais every morning, in order to catch the first screening. The glorious air, the early a.m. freshness, the anticipation of great cinema.
3. Talking and sharing a meal with other critics.
4. Interviews with celebrities in cabanas set right on the beach, the blue-green waters of the Cote d’Azur a hiccup away.
I’ve been twice, and I treasure both times.

John Gilpatrick @
For a number of reasons, the only festival I attend with regularity is Tribeca. One of those reasons is convenience: it’s a quick, 90-minute bus ride from my hometown to New York City. The time of year plays into it, too, with April being something of a dead zone when it comes to the movies. It’s easy to devote oneself to writing about quality independent cinema when there’s very little of it available in theaters. But the biggest reason I go back to Tribeca year after year is that it’s a great experience every time. It’s haven for great documentaries, and it’s stepped its narrative game up in a big way over the last decade. Some of my favorite films taken in there include Virunga, Side by Side, The Revisionaries, Five Star, Hide Your Smiling Faces, and Baghead.

Hugo Gomes @ Cinematograficamente Falando …
My favorite film festival is MOTELx: Internacional Terror Film Festival in Lisbon, the movie that give me the best experience in that festival was You’re Next, by Adam Wingard. The closure film in the 2013 edition was receive by a great audience.

Courtney Howard @
I still have yet to travel the world to big festivals like Telluride, TIFF, Cannes and Sundance, but my favorite festival to attend is AFI Fest in Los Angeles. I’ve met lots of my colleagues there, made many “line friends,” and participated in great conversations about cinema. This is where I discovered writing reviews or quick reactions on my phone whilst standing in line works best for my writing process.

My most memorable AFI Fest experience was post-HAYWIRE premiere screening, moderator Joel McHale made the mistake of taking one question from the audience. It was for star Gina Carano, asking, “Why wasn’t your name Rose?” This is the dumbest question I’ve ever heard asked at a Q&A. Many of my colleagues who were there that night still reference this. Note to everyone: they are always a trainwreck – leave immediately after credits roll.

Kristen Lopez @ Awards Circuit
My film festival experience is limited but I’ve loved every year I’ve attended the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. It’s a chance to hang out with like-minded fans, see amazing films in equally amazing theaters, and see iconic stars at their most candid.

Some amazing experiences: Briefly interviewing Julie Andrews and Keith Carradine, watching The Muppet Movie poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel (and getting a picture with Bill Hader).

Mike McGranaghan @ The Aisle Seat
Now that I’m married and have a child, I no longer cover film festivals. I simply can’t fathom the idea of being away from my family for days on end. But when I did cover them, I enjoyed the Maryland Film Festival, which is held in Baltimore every spring. Great selection of films, great people, great atmosphere.

I have many memorable experiences from that fest, but here’s the most unusual: One year, MFF was showing a movie about eccentric dog owners. As a gimmick, they invited people to bring their dogs with them to the screening. They even gave away Milk-Bones at the concession stand. I thought it would be a disaster (barking, fighting, doing their business on the theater floor, etc.), but surprisingly, the dozen or so dogs in attendance were well behaved – and actually watched the movie!

It was one of the strangest, most amazing moviegoing experiences I’ve ever had, festival or otherwise.

Pat Mullen @ Cinemablographer
The Toronto International Film Festival is king! This eleven-day smorgasbord of movies has something for everyone. TIFF is the best showcase of Canadian films and the hype provided by international stars, wild red carpets, and the annual throwdown of the Oscar gauntlet is a recipe that can’t be beat.

The moment that defines TIFF for me is the 2009 Gala screening of ‘Precious’. It was wild. Even before Oprah took the stage and worked her mojo on the room, the crowd was so enthusiastic. The hype played throughout the screening, with viewers getting into the film and applauded at different turns in the story. The standing O was booming. I have never been a room with so much energy.

Aaron Pinkston @ Battleship Pretension
My favorite festival-going experience is the Roger Ebert Film Festival (known to the layman as ‘Ebertfest’), in large part because it is so different than the typical film festival environment. Taking place over 5 days, with 12-13 films all in one gorgeous movie palace, it has a laid-back and inclusive vibe that you just don’t see elsewhere. Each film is individually curated, previously by Roger Ebert himself, now in the spirit for his love of films. The selections range from beloved classics to overlooked gems to current festival hits. I will never forget seeing a pristine print of Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ in 2007 on the biggest screen imaginable with 1,500 other film lovers.

João Pinto @ Portal Cinema
Even though FantasPorto lost (a lot) of its old flare, it still is one of the best film festivals in Portugal, specially because it caters to the needs and tastes of fans of more specific genders, like horror or sci-fi. Even though copies a bit of the the style and program of festivals like San Sebastian, FantasPorto still provides a healthy environment for movie fans, especially in a city where movie festivals don’t abound.
In terms of most memorable experience at FantasPorto, I would have to say the viewing of banned movie “A Serbian Film” solely because it was simply extravagant.

Jerry Roberts @ Armchair Cinema
I admit I haven’t been to a large number of film festivals, but the one that seems to fit my own personality is Ebertfest. The attendance is rather small, I know the people there and there’s a small town feel (it takes place in Champagne, Illinois).

The best experience I had at Ebertfest was the very first film that I saw there in 2011, the newly restored full print of Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis.” I had never seen this version (it was the print that was put together from the footage found in Argentina in 2010). Seeing it at the Virginia Theater was exhilarating, especially with a very 60s-style musical accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestras.

Marcio Sallem @ Em Cartaz
I’ve not yet attended to film festival overseas, but just to those in Brazil. Therefore, my favorite film festival is “Mostra Internacional de Cinema” at São Paulo.

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