Jan 6, 2014

Monday's Words of Wisdom

Older readers of this blog may remember the weekly Monday's Words of Wisdom feature, wherein I highlighted the best of what I read every week from around the web and print media. The series is returning for good and to celebrate its comeback in 2014, I had to dedicate this space to my absolute favorite piece of film writing in the year that was: Adam Cook's column on the festival experience, which he wrote at the end of the Toronto International Film Festival, where I had the pleasure of meeting him in person.

The piece is a letter in response to a series titled "Correspondences" between two other film critics at MUBI, Fernando F. Croce and Daniel Kasman, who reviewed both the films they watched and their experience in Toronto throughout the festival in letters to one another. Adam's piece concludes their series and it is powerful because it encapsulates perfectly what it means to watch films in the festival environment in all its strange, chaotic, almost romantic glory. In seven years of attending TIFF, among other smaller festivals, with near religious fervor, I have always searched for what it is that sets the sensation of experiencing cinema in the festival so unique and different; why it is that the shared experience is never akin to any other shared "night at the movies." Adam takes those thoughts right out of my head and puts them on paper more eloquently than I ever could.
"What has been particularly illuminating for me is the idea that, ultimately, the festival experience is something intensely private. This may surprise both of you but I do feel this sense of solitude: you’ve watched me have fun, share laughs, opinions, drinks, and questionable dance moves with myriad fellow festivalgoers throughout our time in Toronto. We’ve all talked about movies together... and enjoyed each other’s company, but in the end, we all saw different films in different settings in different situations, watched and worked according to our own personally carved out schedules. There are, of course, overlaps in what we saw, and these intersections are so key to connecting, but even so we may have seen these films in differing time slots (one would be foolish not to admit that what time you see a film doesn’t affect your viewing and also what order and positions one sees films in on any given day). All three of us are returning home, spread out miles apart from one another, with entirely unique experiences, a unique set of memories, and most certainly diverging interpretations of the festival, the films, and everything in between. Indeed, thousands of people are returning home with these unique thoughts and feelings. Therefore, a festival is almost paradoxical: a place where pleasure is derived from sharing, and yet there still exists a gap, seemingly unbridgeable. I think I am at my most and least alone at festivals simultaneously. I wonder if you feel something similar. These correspondences don’t bridge this gap but they point to it, I think, shedding light on the intangible qualities of navigating a festival alone/together and how this aloneness and togetherness is something that cannot be separated from the festival and the films we see there."
You can read the full piece here

1 comment:

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