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Film Fest: Let's have it

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Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby jjoyce » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:36 pm

It was a light fest for me this year, due to a lot of other things going on. I saw only two films.

I noticed some weirdness that still goes on, even though the fest has matured. For instance, at one film, a rush line formed because it was sold out. The volunteer who was very actively shuffling people to the proper lines was asked by a guy in the rush line why he had to wait there. She explained it was because the film had sold out. But it doesn't say it's sold out on the website, he said. That's because the website isn't live and only reflects sellouts as of Tuesday.

The guy continued to argue and I felt like turning around and asking him what he hoped to get out of this confrontation. Did he want to just be let into the movie, ahead of the rest of us who were patiently waiting in line?

One director showed up to take questions after his film screened and then provided cheeky and evasive answers, almost like he was having a joke at the expense of those who had not just viewed and enjoyed his film, but paid for tickets that indirectly compensated him for his craft. We're interested in the movie and want to know more. If you want to be aloof and detached from the moment, stay home or at the bar.
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby depinmad » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:58 am

I saw a lot more than I usually do: Taking Off, Sleepless Night, Kill List, Flooding with Love for the Kid, Compliance, Ecstasy of Order, So's Your Old Man.

No real duds in the bunch, I was a happy camper. Some technical glitches throughout but nothing major, actually I have to say that sound and projection were the best I've seen at the fest, ever. Even the Orpheum was decent.

I saw movies at Union South, Orpheum, Sundance, Monona Terrace, and Cinematheque.

I really like the fact that they work hard to get everyone in who is there and wants to see the movie, whether it's "sold out" or not.
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby Ducatista » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:08 am

Saw:
    Monsieur Lazhar
    Taking Off
    The Day He Arrives
    Sleepless Night
    Hospitalite
    The Fairy
    Klown
    Life Without Principle
    Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation
    Oslo, August 31st
    Without
    The Good Son
    Elena
Only major dud: The Day He Arrives. Might not've been such a disappointment if the guy who introduced it hadn't completely oversold it. Why do they do that?

Sat next to a guy at one Sundance screening who was telling the woman next to him that he'd tried to keep the Bartell off the venue list this year. I asked him why, and he said "Because it's so hard to get to." What? It's half a block off the square, and half a block from a parking ramp. "Well, it's also hard for them to get ready for the Festival." Whatever, dude. It's my favorite Film Fest venue, hope that guy doesn't get his way next year.

Union South was a pleasant surprise. That place was such a shithole when I was in school. Quite luxe now, and the theater is worlds better than the Play Circle.
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby kiwiwannabe » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:29 am

9.5 this year. Loved every minute, especially the Q&As with the unpretentious, real-people filmmakers that I chose.

Monsieur Lazhar
Taking Off
The Fairy
Ecstasy of Order: Tetris Masters
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Last Day at Lambeau
Familiar Grounds
Mr. Cao Goes to Washington
Abendland
So's Your Old Man

Staff was incredible, theaters very comfortable and packed, which was great to see. 28,000 some attendees this year. After the usual initial ticket fiasco, I had no other issues, including great prints shown in a very professional manner. They looked great in HD on the big screen.

Sound was really good, too. I didn't miss any dialog for the first time in recent memory. Can't wait for the Indie Fest at Union South the first week in May!

And it's great to stand in line with other folks who love movies and talk about what you've seen, where to eat and drink, and how many more you have to go.

Thanks for sponsoring this year after year, Isthmus. It is one of the things that keeps Madison Madison, despite onslaughts from the right to make it more like Rockford. Or Waukesha.......
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby donges » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:18 pm

Ducatista wrote:Saw:
    Without


This has been sticking in my head for two days now. Which, although probably a sign of a good film, is starting to creep me out a little.
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby Ducatista » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:41 pm

I really liked that one, more than the film guide description led me to expect. Talked to somebody afterward who didn't like the lack of resolution, but I thought the filmmaker resolved everything quite tidily (which sometimes annoys me, but I didn't mind it in this case).
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby rrnate » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:14 pm

Went to a bunch of stuff this year, including:

Wednesday, April 18
Paul Williams Still Lives (Bartell, 9 PM)

Thursday, April 19
Made In WI (Monona Terrace, 6 PM)
Michael (MMoCA, 9 PM)

Friday, April 20
The Deadly Affair (MMoCA, 1 PM)
Familiar Grounds (MMoCA, 6 PM)
The Alpha Incident (Cinemateque, 9 PM)

Saturday, April 21
Raiders: The Adaptation (Orpheum, 1 PM)
Wid Winner & Other Shorts (Monona Terrace, 4 PM)
Sleepless Night (Orpheum, 9:30 PM)

Sunday, April 22
Life Without Principle (Sundance, 4:15 PM)
Elena (Orpheum, 9 PM)

Overall, as always it was pretty good.

Gripes include:
* As noted by some other folks, there wasn't much Meg presence this year. Never really thought about it before, but her presence really adds to the nice, homegrown feel of the fest. Saw her hanging around a couple screenings, but didn't see her introduce anything.
* Cinemateque Guy - also like other people noted, he clearly seems to know his stuff, but perhaps enjoyed being on stage a bit too much. (That being said, this is something the WFF has always gone back and forth on - usually films are either intro'd by someone who is knowelegeable but has too much to say, or someone who is just there to tell everyone to turn off their cell phones.)
* Schedule - seems like little thought was put in to what "types" of movies played when. Friday and Saturday night between 7 and 10 PM easily had like 4-5 movies I'd have liked to have seen playing that were too overlapped to make work. Meanwhile, it felt like there was less really interesting stuff during the day.
* Sundance - it's a great theater, but having it far beyond walking distance is a little less fun.
* Guide - this is always a little hit or miss, but pretty much every movie I saw (excepting docs here) was quite different than what the guide summary sounded like.
* Wid-Winner & Other Shorts - OMG, Wid-Winner was awful. Think of every single "indie film" cliche that goes in to a normal-length film, than think of editing it down to 30-minutes. I almost wanted to hang around and hassle the filmmaker afterwards as he was in-house for Q&A, but was short on time.

That being said, I didn't see much in the way of true stinkers. Highlights included:
* Paul Williams Is Alive - introduced by the filmmaker, who was pretty funny and had an excellent Q&A afterwards.
* Michael - creepy as hell, earned a big gasp from the audience at the end
* Familiar Grounds - wow! This was pretty spectacular and had a pretty uniqe feel.
* Sleepless Night - pretty cool. The fest has a secretly cool tradition of always sprinkling in a couple really amazing foriegn thrillers and this was it this year (at least for me).
* Lines - Dane101 has some interesting back/forth on how attendance broke down in comparison to previous years. Seems like there wasn't a lot of stuff that was heavily sold-out that I saw, but almost everything had close-to-full rooms. Upside was, there was a lot less waiting forever in line to get inside a full theater and hustle for a couple seats.
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby Ducatista » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:40 pm

rrnate wrote:Gripes include:
* As noted by some other folks, there wasn't much Meg presence this year. Never really thought about it before, but her presence really adds to the nice, homegrown feel of the fest. Saw her hanging around a couple screenings, but didn't see her introduce anything.

That was a plus for me. She introduced quite a few of our movies last year, and every single introduction included at least one line about how hard it is to run a film festival. I've no doubt that's true, and props to her for doing all she did, but the "my job is hard" refrain wore thin fast.

Explains this year's Fest by Committee, I guess.

I'm with you on Sundance. Nice theater, but I'm not keen on having to leave downtown. We just made a day of it Friday, three in a row at Sundance. Sleepless Night was one of them, and the BluRay kept freezing for the first few minutes. Just a few minutes of down time, though, and they got it sorted.

Oof, the Guide. Not only were the descrips hit or miss, but at least one was almost a straight (unattributed) pickup of a published review. Doesn't seem kosher.

I normally hate it when the fest starts later than the end of March/very start of April (this was the latest Fest yet, wasn't it?), but this year it coincided exactly with the end of my super-insanity-season at work. Any earlier, and I wouldn't have been able to attend.

Another lucky break: I had no problem ordering online. It still gives me the chills to think of the people who watched their films sell out as they spent hours trying to order. I was already pretty tightly wound from deadline convergence... that would've about sent me round the bend.
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby rrnate » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:58 pm

Ducatista wrote:Another lucky break: I had no problem ordering online. It still gives me the chills to think of the people who watched their films sell out as they spent hours trying to order. I was already pretty tightly wound from deadline convergence... that would've about sent me round the bend.


Yeah, this totally drove me crazy. I'm one of these people that always has their schedule all worked out right when tickets go on sale, and I had a couple things "sell out" on me while I dinked around with their not-working site. Particularly aggravating as they delayed sales pretty last-minute-style by a week in order to "work the kinks" out of the online site.

Still, mistakes are mistakes and the rest of the organizational parts of the fest (minus a few tech glitches) seemed pretty seamless.

Biggest Not Previously Mentioned Regret: nothing on par with the awesome screening of Blood Hook / Evil Dead / Night Train To Terror. That, and my hangover for the "Raiders" screening.
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby Athena » Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:09 pm

I went to 18 films this year. My husband and I had bought tickets for 19 and just couldn't do the last one. Wed - Paul Williams night - went to Bugsy Malone and then Paul Williams is still alive. Thurs - Margaret, The Fairy, Sleepless Night. Fri- The Hunter, Tomboy, Girl Model, Don Hertzfeldt, and Keyhole. Sat - Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Raiders, 4:44, Compliance. Sun - Policeman, Deep Blue Sea, Labor of Love, Kill List.

All of the films were good. The only disappointing one was Keyhole since I normally love Guy Maddin but this one just didn't work. Don Hertzfedlt was excellent and gave a great Q&A after. Compliance really needed the Q&A which helped greatly to process the film. My favorites were Deep Blue Sea, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and The Fairy which probably says more about my taste than the quality of the films.

Meg only introduced one of the films we saw this year, but I think she appreciated not to have to do everything this time around. Jim Healy did a great job and introduced most of the films and I thought he did an excellent job at introducing the Q&As and getting them off to a good start.

Issues: both Keyhole and Sleepless Night were at Sundance which normally does a good job at projection, but both films had blu-ray pausing issues. They fixed the Sleepless Night problem fairly quickly, but Keyhole didn't do it until the middle of the film and by then a lot of people used it as an excuse to leave. Policeman was at the Orpheum and had sound issues. At least with Policeman there were subtitles. And the Orpheum was darn cold this year and I hated the lack of seating in the front. I don't know why they couldn't have brought in some nice folding chairs or something and make a few more rows.

I did like being able to get food at both Union South and at Sundance. But both venues took longer to get to than we had planned for and we ended up way in the front of Sundance for several films because of the tight scheduling. Next year we'll have to do better at looking at where the film is. Since both the Play Circle and the Stage Door are gone, the main Orpheum theater moved up to the top of my theaters to avoid list.

As for the film guide, my understanding is that most of the descriptions are provided by either the filmmakers or the distributors. I went to the Sundance film festival for a few years and it was always a problem that everything sounded good in the guide.

I did see some statistics that ticket sales were down, but I didn't see any evidence of that. All the movies that I went to were either sold out or close to it.
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby green union terrace chair » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:11 pm

omg I was at so many of the same movies as a bunch of you ... did you see me???

Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation ... if I wasn't already familiar with the original, I would have been lost. The VHS-sourced audio compounded by the Orpheum's terrible sound made it almost completely unintelligible.

Ducatista wrote:Union South was a pleasant surprise. That place was such a shithole when I was in school. Quite luxe now, and the theater is worlds better than the Play Circle.

Maybe because it's not the same place at all? You know that, right?
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby Ducatista » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:00 am

Yeah. Union South took the place of Memorial Union (Play Circle, Union Theater) this year. You know that, right?
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby green union terrace chair » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:56 am

Ducatista wrote:Yeah. Union South took the place of Memorial Union (Play Circle, Union Theater) this year. You know that, right?

I meant that you made it sound like you thought they "fixed up" Union South when it's really a completely different building. Maybe I am reading too far into your sentence. Never mind. ENJOY THE MOVIE.

I do respect that the theater in Union South has replaced the Vilas Hall theater for Cinematheque and that they let you eat and drink in the former where that was all banned on pain of death in the latter.
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby Ducatista » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:02 am

Cinematheque still screens at 4070 Vilas, meh. I'm really glad they added Union South and the Chazen to their lineup. We're right downtown, and we've never gone to a Cinematheque showing outside of film fest, dunno why not. We're going to start. Good timing, now that they're in the nicer theaters.
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Re: Film Fest: Let's have it

Postby TheBookPolice » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:07 am

First year attending the Fest.

Kill List, Friday at Union South Marquee. Kind of hated it. No, really hated it. Whatever character was present in the method of storytelling was completely squandered by the absence of actual storytelling. Google it and read the spoilers; don't bother seeing it just to find out what the buzz is about.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Saturday at Orpheum. This was my best-of-fest. Sumptuous visuals of the sushi and its component ingredients, and a delicate, respectful portrayal of this dedicated old man and his sons. Surprisingly, there is a twist at the end that I should have seen coming but didn't; it is the perfect capper to a thoroughly enjoyable film. Love of sushi: certainly helpful, but not required.

Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, Saturday at Orpheum. The best part of a double-feature is getting prime seats for the second show. Considering the aforementioned poor video and audio quality inherent in the film itself, plus the poor acoustics (or at least the content-inappropriate acoustics) of the venue, good seats were a must. These kids nailed Raiders, got a girl to take her shirt off -- for the integrity of the gown scene in Belloq's tent, of course -- and actually set fire to a truck and one of their basements. I hope they sign off on, and participate in, a making-of documentary when their book comes out in November. I just want more of this story.

Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, Sunday at Bartell. Interesting premise, lots of potential for any of the following: thrilling real-life legal narrative, couldn't-script-this biography, powerful feminist argument, exposition on the value of filmmaking and oral history. Was, in fact: a frustrating bit of all of these. The title comes from a Guatemalan concept of community and shared effort; each person commits a grain of sand to the pile. This is a great philosophy for society, less so for actually making a film. The filmmaker (who, in a slightly self-aggrandizing fashion, conspicuously dropped all mention of her counterpart during the first documentary's filming after a brief bit at the beginning) should have made some cruel edits to the many emotional tales she caught on camera, and just stuck to one documentary archetype.

I really enjoyed the Union South theater, though I had no experience with the old USouth. But Bartell was nice in the old-theater mold. Orpheum was fine for Jiro, but the sound quality is undeniably poor even for a movie utilizing modern filmmaking technology, to say nothing of Betamax.
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