WorldFest Houston (or alternatively The Houston International Film and Video Festival) was exactly as its poster might have you think it was. It was rather surreal. It was also a lot of fun and a very generous festival. And it went out with a real bang.
Alex and I flew down to Houston from Atlanta to attend the screening of The Death of Alice Blue and the closing night awards ceremony at WorldFest Houston. The festival was generous in providing for our accommodation, inviting us (no strings attached) to the closing night gala, and reimbursing us for a good chunk of the price of airfare.
The screening went well. Things began to seem a little surreal as I descended the hotel escalator to the gala and was greeted by the festival's Executive Director, Hunter Todd. For some reason Mr. Todd was dressed in full regalia as a boat Captain. Mr. Todd is a very friendly and personable man.
Mr. Todd and another man were co-MCs of the evening. Here I might add we were provided with a wonderful dinner which consisted of many courses and different wines for each course. The festival participants were different from the participants at other festivals I had attended. They weren't scruffy like the indie filmmakers in Atlanta, nor as chic and polished as participants of the Toronto or Berlin film festivals. I had the fleeting impression of being on the Love Boat.
The guests sat in tension as they ate through their many courses, waiting for the awards to be announced. Alex and I were delighted to receive two gold awards for The Death of Alice Blue, one for Best Fantasy Feature and one for Best Special Effects.
One person at our table was a Texan who suggested it might be fun to show the Canadians what a "real" Texas bar was like. The suggestion was taken up by all and off we went into the night.
One thing a "real" Texas bar apparently is not, is a faux British pub like so many we have in Toronto. Instead it must go in the other direction, it must have a lot of rough hewn wood about - wood benches, wood picnic tables and wood planks on the wall. In this environment I asked the Texan (a fireman by trade) if it was true that a lot of people in Texas had concealed guns. I was assured that quite a lot of people had them, but I wasn't to worry, there was a law prohibiting guns in government buildings and in bars. Furthermore, I was told, this was a good thing, for example if someone had a gun and was threatening your girlfriend you could...
On the way back to the hotel we were nearly killed. All of us. A young man was driving his car at a terrific speed. I have a clear memory of his suddenly awoken face as we crossed the street. He was heading right for us. Fortunately he had the good sense to swerve into a pole. He missed us by about five feet. There was considerable confusion. He was pulled from his car unconscious. He started muttering and appeared intoxicated. The fireman assured us he would be alright.