Okay, time to put a fork in this. I’ve taken my time getting through these last wrap-ups, but I’ve gone too long without thanking some people, and it’s time to move on to new subjects.
If you care to look through the previous entries, here they are…
Part Three (Brett Ratner Edition)
Day One (The Wrestler)
Day Two (Malcolm McDowell Day!)
Day Three (Short Films and More!)
Final RECAP (Part I)
Now for new stuff…
First off, gratitude! If I forget anybody please forgive me and make sure to call me an asshole, next we meet.
Danny Filson – Danny gets better and more energetic at hosting the Fest each year, and has certainly become the face of it. While he’s always running around the celebrities, he’s also pretty down-to-earth with the general festival goers. More than once, Danny lent his ear to me despite being painfully and obviously busy. He’s truly indispensable; I don’t think the festival could run on the day-to-day without him.
Bobby Zarem – The famed producer and P.R. genius has continually graced our festival with his influence. I’m told that we owe nearly every big name that has passed through the festival to him, and I believe it. Bobby is the silent heart of the festival- his presence seems to pulse at every reception, and shine at every screening (especially when the Award honoree inevitably thanks him for inviting them). My hope and goal for next year’s fest is to have a few minutes with Mr. Zarem, to thank him personally.
Paula Wallace – Of the two Paula’s that have helped give Savannah its recent vitality, one has given us good fried chicken and the other has provided an ever-growing film festival. I’ll take the latter any day. The President of our little school is quite a figure among the students, the school, and the town. It is said that the Fest was her brainchild and now, a dozen years later, it brings incomparable prestige to SCAD. I’m proud to be a student of this school, and our festival is a big reason why. Thanks Ms. Paula.
Bill Dawers - Bill has been a companion of sorts for my last few festivals, as he typically joins me and some other regulars on the front row for each night’s screening. I don’t think a film festival screening would feel quite right if I didn’t have Bill on my left for an instant critique as the credits rolled. Bill has introduced me to a number of important folks involved in and around the Festival and Savannah, which is helpful to a lowly film student. Bill is a writer for Savannah Now (you can find his columns and blogs here) and may possibly know every person of note in Savannah. The festival experience wouldn’t be the same for me without Bill, so many thanks to him.
Finally, there are two people I’m very deeply indebted to, as I would not have been able to attend the Festival in such a capacity without them.
A big thanks to the creator of this very site, Nick Nunziata. His support allowed me to get a hold of a Media Pass for coverage on this blog. CHUD’s been a large part of my life for many years, so it feels immensely gratifying to cover my school’s wonderful Festival and write about it under a CHUD logo. I’ll always be indebted to the site for this.
A mega-huge super thanks to Sunny Nelson, Director of Communications for SCAD. Ms. Nelson’s infinite patience, speedy communication, and gracious hospitality made this by and far the best festival I’ve attended. Sunny answered many of my questions, some at peak points of the festival, with impressive timing, and was an invaluable resource. I hope I have lived up to my end of the bargain with the coverage, and that she’ll have me back next year. If that’s the case, then I look forward to next October.
Also, many good words for fellow chewer Dr. Hall (he can be found on the CHUD boards, spittin’ the wisdom), and director of The 27 Club, Erica Dunton (see her fucking movie!).
I want to wrap up some thoughts on just a couple of films.
The Burning Plain (dir: Guillermo Arriaga)
This is the new one from Guillermo Arriaga, writer of Babel and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. This (kind of) marks his directorial debut, and I think it was the right way for him to go, creatively. I’m a big fan of Melquiadas Estrada, but Babel was not one that impressed me. Arriaga is fond of intricately connected multiple narrative stories, but it’s not a schtick that has worked resoundingly well until this film. The Burning Plain is difficult to talk about without spoiling some basic structural twists, but suffice to say, it’s pretty damn interesting. It’s not a film that I feel comfortable calling “great,” but I do look forward to seeing it again and giving it a proper review.
I’ve heard that it would be released sometime in January or February, but I can’t find much info. I’ll be on the look out.
The Boy in The Striped Pajamas (dir: Mark Herman)
I had high hopes for this film once I saw the very promising trailer, but I didn’t find this one sticking with me. The craft on display is top-notch, and the acting is without question, but ultimately it has little to offer. When you are dealing with a theme as obvious as “the Holocaust was bad,” then you have to bring something new to the table. On this front it is very near success: The movie sets up an exploration of a child losing his innocence and naivete. Unfortunately, it is unable to follow through, being a slave to it’s own inevitable plot devices. The movie is definitely worth the experience and is sure to bring a tear, but it isn’t getting added to any pantheon lists as far as I can see.
Slumdog Millionaire (dir: Danny Boyle)
I am so immensely happy that this movie seems to be catching on. Our screening back in October was wildly enthusiastic, and I’ve since waited for the public to embrace it. It’s a little edgier and rougher than the small word-of-mouthers of the past (like Little Miss Sunshine), but far more rewarding for it. I have no doubt that the love for this movie is going to peak with well-deserved Oscar attention*. DO NOT MISS A CHANCE TO SEE THIS MOVIE.
*The aforementioned Mr. Dawers and I had a discussion about this. Bill seemed skeptical of it’s chances. He rightly pointed out the Academy’s stubborn dismissal of internationally themed films. My hope is that this continues to catch on in a platforming fashion with the public, to the point that the Academy will have to take attention. It seems as if it is well on its way.
Bottle Shock (dir: Randall Miller)
This ended up being the closer for the fest after The Soloist was yanked from all of it’s upcoming festivals. Many kudos to the organizers that managed to bring in a last-minute new film in it’s place. It was very nice to end the fest with something other than a re-showing of an earlier film.
It is unfortunate though, that a festival that began with such triumphant beauty, had to be book-ended with Remember The Titans for wine enthusiasts.
Many many thanks to all who read even a single word of my festival coverage, and I hope to give you more in 2009. I have big plans for the next fest (up-to-the-minute coverage, video, and more), so I hope I get a shot at it.
Thanks for reading!
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