Thursday, March 8, 2012

Say Hello To My Little Friend Oscar

Well, the cold is wearing off, I almost have a voice back, and I am basically caught up at work. I think that means it's time to get back to blogging and to catch you up on what I've been doing for the past week.

You see, there's this festival in our town. It's called the True/False film festival. And I am addicted.  Or entrenched. Or whatever the verb is that means you look forward to an event but end up giving so much of yourself that you need to recover for almost a full week when it's over.

Yep. That's my relationship with True/False.

It started innocently enough. A few years ago, I saw a couple of films. I loved them. I decided to volunteer for the fest, since Eric's work at the time was a sponsor and he'd be busy the whole time actually doing work.

The next year, we both volunteered.

Then last year, we got asked to step it up a notch: to manage a venue.  We were promised it would be the smallest venue. It basically ran itself. We'd learn as we went- no big deal really.

And it was fairly painless.  But when the fest decided to end its relationship with that venue they found a new home for us. And this home was the largest venue True/False had ever, ever had for an entire fest.  Yes, we would be responsible for 1732 seats. 

Woah, doggy.

Eric and I have a knack for doing things all the way. We knew we loved each other five years ago so we got married after knowing each other for nine months. We jumped right in.

We bought our house in one day after one viewing and after not having looked at any other homes.
I'm just saying--when we decide to do something, we go after it. Full force. No halfway.

And so it was without a second thought that we agreed to take three days off work, devote our lives to documentary film, and head up the largest venue the fest had ever run.

And man was it hard. And fun. And hard. I already said that? Whoops.But seriously, I believe in the power of documentary to tell stories and change lives. And to see lives you might not otherwise be privy to. 

I believe in our little town and its ability to transform itself from a perfect college town to an artsy, documentary haven.
I would say we learned a lot in our first year managing Jesse Hall. And I think our marriage grew stronger. We were understaffed and a little overworked and somehow we managed to love each other and not kill each other. I'd call it a success, yes?

Before you start thinking that I am the only one who thinks this festival is cool, I have to tell you, it's not just a Missouri thing. The fest draws filmmakers and film lovers from all over the world. It is sponsored by HBO and the Academy of Motion Pictures to name a couple of big names. Yes, that academy. And James Franco and Morgan Spurlock both made appearances. I only saw one of the two. No, sadly, it wasn't Jim. Very sadly. We bring in some of the biggest names in documentary each year and many academy award winners come to see us before they win big. And in the case of this year's film, after. We'll get to that in a minute, though.

It's not all about the films, either. It's also about the art, the scene, the parade, and so much more. This year, there was a venue called the Picturehouse. Six giant screens hung from the sky and played video portraits of people from our town. It was kind of like Harry Potter, where the portraits come to life. Here's a still shot of what it looked like, to give you an idea.

Please note it was way cooler in real life. I told Eric I wanted to do this in our house but on a smaller scale.  His response?
"So you want a digital picture frame?"

Oh he is a clever one.  Moving on...

Because we were "in charge" (aka the ones responsible if something went wrong. And things, did indeed, go wrong) we really didn't get to see any films. I take that back. We got to see Morgan Spurlock's newest venture about ComiCon. Oh my goodness it was fun. It follows several people on their way to ComiCon. One of those people is Holly.  Holly makes costumes in her garage and hopes to make it as a big-time costume designer. She took costumes to ComiCon she had made to look like the video game Mass Effect. She also brought her rockin Costume to the viewing of her film. And what do nerds like me do? We get photos with that stuff, duh!!

Holly was super nice and very accommodating to all of the geeks who wanted pictures with her. Myself included. And yes, she looks intimidating here but she was actually just putting on her game face. Pun intended.

There were lots of other films I wanted to see but didn't get to. Films like Bully and These Birds Walk and Searching for Sugar Man and 1/2 Revolution. By far, though, the one I most missed getting to watch was Undefeated.

It may sound familiar. It won the Oscar a few weeks ago (I told you we'd get back to that). Plus, one of the two filmmakers was a Mizzou grad and you could tell he was glad to be back.  Each film has a Q&A at the end, typically with the filmmaker(s). In the Q&A for Undefeated the filmmakers said they wanted to introduce the audience to a new member of their posse.  And then they brought him out.
His name was Oscar.
The rest of the Q&A may or may not have been eclipsed by the small, heavy, gold statue at the front of the stage. People were taking pictures of it and eventually, TJ and Daniel even let people pass it around. 

It was a good hour after they started the Q&A that we were finally ushering the final few patrons out the doors. Since it was our last film of the fest, our volunteers were getting a little nostalgic. Plus, the film and filmmakers were awesome. So they asked if those of us who were still there could grab a photo with them. The filmmakers possibly being the most down-to-earth guys I've ever met were more than happy to stick around. So we gathered around in the lobby, ready to take a picture. TJ pulls something out of a camera bag and hands it to me.

And I look down, only to see the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature being placed into my hands.


So, I did what any normal, documentary-loving kid would do. I lost my breath, asked if they were serious, and posed with pride for my now-favorite picture of the festival.

Yes, it is as heavy as they always say it is. 

This picture was taking by one of Daniel's (guy on far right--filmmaker) fraternity buddies from college. Then, he handed me his phone and asked if I'd take a picture of them. Fun times. 

Because at the end of the day, documentary film lovers really are just one big family. 

And I am pretty glad I got a family photo with TJ, Dan, and Oscar.

See you next year, True/False. I need 11 months to rest.

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