Friday, May 29, 2009

Exotics Down South - The Atlanta Fim Festival

In April of 2009 The Death of Alice Blue travelled down south to participate in the 32nd  Atlanta Film Festival.  Right off the top it was put forward that The Death of Alice Blue and its filmmakers were exotics from the far far North.  This is what the Atlanta Film Festival guide had in part to say about The Death of Alice Blue: "There is something about The Death of Alice Blue that has a quintessential Canadian feel to it... filled with dark dry humor and a pleasant quirkiness that is evident from the acting to the costumes to the set design.." 

For our part, Alex and I found Atlanta to be exactly as you might a Southern city to be.  It was very laid back, warm (though the locals didn't think so), fragrant, and manifest of the legendary Southern Hospitality.  One example of this last point was the festival's main representative, Executive Director Gabriel "Gabe" Wardell.  Gabe was young, approachable, and extremely helpful.  He was concerned with how everything was going for everyone, ensured we had rides everywhere we needed, and even offered festival and post-festival advice.  

The hub of The Atlanta Film Festival seemed to be "Filmmaker's Lounge", really a popular artsy bar.   Here between film screenings scruffy filmmakers would sip free beer and exchange war stories and advice about the DIY world of indie filmmaking.

The Atlanta Film Festival held nightly events.  One such was themed on a game called "Beer Pong", the subject of a participating documentary.  This game was a variation on Ping Pong which included plastic cups of beer and much drinking of said beer.  Referees kept order.

We really knew we were in the south after the screening of a documentary about the conviction Edgar Killin, a preacher and reputed KKK member, for involvement in the murders of several civil rights workers in the sixties.  As the Q and A started, the filmmaker called upon an audience member who stood up and said to the effect "while we may not be in Tennessee, Georgia has five hundred outstanding lynchings to this day".

The screenings for The Death of Alice Blue went well.  The film got good houses, particularly considering these were matinees.  Alex and I were more prepared and calm so our Q and A was more open, honest, and funny.  Once again a comparison to Terry Gilliam was brought up.  This happened also outside.  Since then I've refreshed my memory as to what is distinct about Gilliam's work, and I can now see why these comparisons come up.  I think it is a good thing.

Unfortunately we could not attend our second Q and A as we had a plane to catch to the next festival.

Of the many great people we met there two stand out, Miracole and Chris Burns.   Miracole is a Comic Book model and a model for genre conventions.  Chris is an actor and filmmaker. Miracole's car is a sedan which has had all logos removed and its window's tinted.  It resembles some FBI/CIA/secret agency vehicle.  Alex and I quite enjoyed the spirit of this couple.  They were another example that Southern Hospitality is alive and well in Atlanta, Georgia.

So it was in the American South that The Death of Alice Blue with its "pleasant quirkiness" represented the exotic world of the far far north.

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