When Most of Your Life is Really a Festival

Know where I am not this weekend? At Sundance. Whenever I open WordPress to write a post like this one,  I am immediately confronted by a conveyer belt of newsfeeds, many of which are from “trades,” like Variety and The Hollywood reporter. I’m drawn to the reviews and descriptions of the movies that are opening at Sundance. Reading them, I have mixed feelings. I went once, a few years ago, and there is something about seeing a film at a festival. There is something about seeing a film at a festival, being in the audience for a film that hasn’t been seen anywhere else the moment before a film begins–a feeling of closeness, camaraderie, excitement and hope. A collective feeling of hope that the experience will be good, that the film will be good, that you will discover something together.

But there are lots of other moments too–moments in line, realizing you won’t get in.  Moments of being really cold, walking up long hills because the people who booked the shared condominiums refused to tell you how really far away from the festival they were. Feeling isolated and pretty worked over from the “networking” on buses, in theater lobbies and at parties, the where people look past you for more interesting prospects, the knowledge that I was sometimes looking over someone’s shoulder too. Not because I have the savvy to recognize anyone important, but because the neediness of the person in front of you can feel like an undertow, and when that happens, you look in every direction for shore.

So, overall, mixed feelings about not being at Sundance this year. Sad to miss it, and NOT sad to be missing it.

The librarian of the Philosophy library upstairs from where I work loves the opera and ballet, and music and movies.  When I ask about his weekend he’ll often say, in a still-thick Chicago twang (despite the fact he has lived in Southern California since before I was born), “Barrington, I’ll tell ya’, I saw a great movie!” Or, “Barrington, I’ll tell ya’, that orchestra was spectacular!”  When I ask about his upcoming weekend, he usually seems happy with his plans, and equally happy without plans.  This weekend  after Friday night, “I don’t have anything going on! I’ve got two days to just read, and listen to some music.  It’s gonna be great!

And really, what is greater than that? In high school and college, a new CD or two in your hands or a friend’s was entertainment for an evening at least.  In my 20s, a movie night with rented videos was a fully-formed activity.

A package of a dozen screeners for the Independent Spirit Awards showed up my mailbox this week, and I have the option to attend nine different screening this weekend. This is in addition to our Netflix, Hulu and cable package.  We have a hundred CDs and iTunes and Spotify…

…and somehow all this feels incidental and interstitial. Everything is a thing that one crams in between other things…

This weekend however, I’m working to pare down the things, and appreciate each one as I’m doing it. Today I cleared the calendar for the afternoon and spent several consecutive hours reading.  Reading is a luxurious experience in itself, one I have enjoyed since I was six.  Granted it’s because I need to finish a three-hundred page book of historical non-fiction in time to write a thousand-word book review for Tuesday, but still–

Related post: Review of movie I would be interested in seeing: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/i-origins-sundance-review-672274

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