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SXSW Official Selection

© Joe Swanberg 2004-2005
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Saturday, September 03, 2005

I've changed my initial impression about Thursday night's screening. We got some emails and talked to some people today who really liked the movie, and I'm now thinking that people may not have been audibly responding, but they were soaking the film in and liking it. I feel much better.

Tonight's screening was at the Cinema ONF, which is the National Film Board of Canada's screening room. It was a really nice intimate theatre and the projection looked really good.

We didn't have the guts to watch the film while it screened, so we walked down the street and found a place to get some poutine, a Montreal specialty, which consists of french fries, cheese, and gravy. I'm seen above, polishing off the final bit. We had to try it while we were here, and we all really liked it. Now we're on the lookout for some gourmet poutine.

The audience was quite a bit smaller than Thursday's, but we snuck in to watch the end of the movie, and the reaction to the film was much more vocal. People were laughing and seemed to be enjoying the film. I talked a little bit before the screening, and I think it helped. It's good to give a little introduction and talk about our motives before the film screens, and I didn't do that Thursday because I thought we would get a more traditional Q&A afterward.

After our film we walked back to the hotel and caught a little bit of the outdoor screening. There were a ton of people sitting outside watching the film. We stayed for a bit but it got cold and we headed to the room. We watched an hour or two of news about New Orleans and decided we had to get out of the room.

The night ended at "Rock and Roll Pizza," where the $.99 pizza never gets old.

Friday, September 02, 2005

As you can see, the sign for Montreal is obscured by bug guts on the window of the car. The second day of driving took its toll on us, as we were all pretty cranky in the morning. I bought everybody breakfast to try and kill the sour mood in the car, and it worked for most of the rest of the drive, but right before we hit Montreal traffic got bad and by the time we got the hotel our excitement was mixed with more frustration.

After spending what seemed like an hour just trying to figure out how to get to our room, we went down to the restaurant for a Festival happy hour. The goal was to meet some other Festival guests and to get some information about how everything works around here. We did meet some nice people, and some idiots, and in general I had a good time.

Kevin went out to walk around, and Kris, Kate, and I went looking for food. We found a place called "Rock and Roll Pizza" and we got slices for $.99, which was great. We had to meet up with a guy named Constantinos (who turned out to be super great) at 9:30 to walk us over to our screening, so we headed back for the hotel.

The turnout was way better than I expected for 10PM on a Thursday night, but the screening itself was absolutely painful. There was a short film playing before ours that had absolutely nothing in common with our film, and set a very strange tone for our screening. There was hardly a reaction to anything in our film, and during the course of it, about 20 people got up and left. The projector was super bright and the contrast was turned way up, so the movie looked really weird, and in general I was just praying that there were a few people there who were really liking it.

After the screening, I didn't feel so bad, because a few people came up to me afterward to say how much they liked it. It was really late and no Festival people were around, so there wasn't really a Q&A, but we hung out in the lobby and talked. For some reason the lady gave me the microphone, I guess so if I wanted to talk afterward I could plug it back in, but I stuck it in my pocket and forgot about it, so when we got back to the hotel I realized I still had it, which was pretty much the perfect way to end the night.

We all agreed that there's no way we are going to sit in the theatre and watch the other screenings. The reaction here is so different than SXSW, it's amazing. I feel like there might be a bit of a language barrier, since our film isn't subtitled, and we also have the smallest, cheapest feature in the Festival, without a doubt, so we really stick out on that level. I felt like there were a lot of similar films, thematically and in scale, at SXSW, but we stick out like a sore thumb here.

It's great though, because I know that a few people at the screening last night really loved the film and were very glad they saw it, so it's a success. I'm told that the theater where we are screening tonight is perfect for the film. It's small and intimate, about 100 seats, and it's in a hip part of town. I'm looking forward to seeing if the reaction is any different, but I think I'll just poke my head in during certain parts, rather than watch the whole film again.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

We took one wrong turn and went about 90 minutes out of our way, but other than that, it was a pretty smooth drive from Chicago to Toronto. More stops than I would have liked, but Kris has a small bladder and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

This is what downtown Toronto looks like through a hotel window on the 15th floor with some glare from a light in the room. It's a nice city and we did a lot of walking around last night. There are some areas that are big and bright like Times Square and then a few streets away it kind of feels like the Wicker Park area of Chicago.

Yesterday was a my birthday, so we went out to eat at a place called "The Bishop and the Belcher." The food was good but the waiter was a real jerk and they didn't even give me a free dessert for my birthday. It was OK, because there was a bubble tea place still open, so I got a mint bubble tea as a birthday dessert, and it was great.

Today we drive on. We should get into Montreal at about 3 or 4PM and the movie screens at 10PM tonight, so there should be some time to take a nap, shower, and mentally prepare to watch the film with another audience. I'm really curious to see what the reaction will be tonight. I'll report back.

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