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Dispatches from Kansas City: Day 2 and 3

April 18, 2010

The great thing about film festivals is getting to know new people, hands down. Yes, it is fun to watch four or five films in a row and enjoy parties, but it is the quiet moments that you steal away with other festival attendees to lunch or for coffee or even standing around in the lobby that make it all worthwhile.

Friday was a quiet day of sightseeing for me before getting to grab lunch with the other jurors at Arthur Bryant’s for what may have been the largest plate of BBQ ever. I mostly caught movies the rest of the day and skipped out on the party in order to wake up early on Saturday.

Saturday, we started off with a Festival strategies panel. I got to join along with Ed Stencel (Slamdance and other fests), Meaghan Brander (Toronto), Jim Kolmar (SXSW) and Roberta Munroe (former Sundance programmer) to talk fest strategies. While we all have varying viewpoints on some things, our key to filmmakers was have a good film above all else, research when submitting to fests, be open to trying lots of different festivals, don’t hold out for the one big fest, read all the great advice out there like Chris Holland’s Film Festival Secrets (and so many others), and know that the festival world is small – if you are a diva towards one fest, the word could get out. We probably said other stuff too, but that was all before enough coffee and I don’t recall much of it anymore.

Afterwards, we supported juror Alain Zaloum by attending his film C’est pas moi, c’est l’autr – a caper about misidentity and mistaken understanding of language barriers. The film got a lot of laughs from the audience throughout so we decide to celebrate with Alain afterwards.

Roberta and I, along with Alain, then found ourselves at yet another BBQ place (Winslow’s) where we had a lovely chat about the film industry. And that is truly one of the best parts of festivals is when you get to break through and just have an honest and interesting discussion about something you are passionate about with others in the same mindset.  Well really, it is just that you get to be around people you can geek out with over issues in film that your friends back home really don’t want to hear you talk about anymore.

After lunch and some jury duty for the feature films, I viewed the independent film from 1976, A Boy and His Dog, with filmmaker L.Q. Jones on hand for a lengthy discussion about the film and his experiences as an actor under Sam Peckinpah. The entire podcast will go up at Jeff Goldsmith’s I-Tunes soon and is worth a listen.

The film was screened at the Tivoli theater which had a series of fun old movie posters (see above image) and a little bit of a feel of the Alamo. The Tivoli is where the festival used to be held up until two years ago and the district it is in has a really great vibe to it, despite the brawl that I watched the cops break up outside a night club next door.

The night closed with Gates BBQ and some pretty great jazz at the Mutual Music Association near 18th and Vine which has a rich history of great jazz and illegal booze 24/7 since 1930 (the city forced them to get a liquor license a couple of years ago, or so I was told vehemently by several angry people over the course of the night).

Tomorrow starts with a brunch and then I have to gear up to leave in the afternoon, but not before hitting the Plaza –  a must see.

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