Judith Lautner (judith) wrote,
Judith Lautner

Morgan and Malcolm and More

Last night Paul and I went to the special film festival event featuring Malcolm McDowell and Morgan Freeman. Turns out the president of the board of directors of the film festival is a friend of Freeman's and McDowell is also, and so presumably this is how these two were prevailed upon to show up. They spoke, accepted and presented awards, answered questions. I was in the front row, could hardly have been closer, but I only took a few pictures, including:

What's funny is that I was struck by how much these stars looked like themselves. Someone, in the film we watched ahead of the presentations, mentioned that Charlie Chaplin entered a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest and won third place.  I think that does suggest that we see them differently once they've been on the big screen.

The Fremont was again sold out, which had to be gratifying for its owners. I wonder how many of the people who attended had never even been inside before. I hope there were some, maybe many, who now figure they'll be coming back. Even so, with the 800-or-so capacity crowd, this is small potatoes compared to events in larger cities and with larger, better established film festivals. And so I am grateful that Freeman accepted his award with such grace.

It would have been easy to pass it off, to laugh it off even, as some small-town ego trip. But he didn't do that. And he sat still for the array of questions from the film festival members, answering them all thoughtfully. It was much more than I expected from any of them.

And the film. It was the opening night of Lucky No. Slevin. I knew next to nothing about the film but didn't care. It's an entertaining if highly improbable flick, with some particularly enjoyable dialogue and a puzzle that reminded me of The Usual Suspects. Ultimately not as good as that film but well worth seeing.

This event topped my day, which started with an engrossing panel of indie film directors, held at the SLO Little Theater. All young, mostly men, and still fresh enough to be willing to share their experiences and impressions of what they'd done. I got a good sense of each one of them and how they attacked their particular films and learned a lot about the process as they lived it. One of them, the director-writer of a feature film called "Milk Can", about a war that breaks out between two Northern California cities over a football rivalry, offered free DVDs of a documentary he put together about the making of the film. I took one, of course, and watched it later, squeezing it in between my other events.

After the panel I went home, unfortunately beset with another headache, and took drugs, decongestant, hoping that would do the trick in time for the indie film I wanted to see: Race Across America, about the amazing nonstop bicycle race from San Diego to Atlantic City. What a terrific film! The director was on the panel, and he had told us that he used several camera people from craigslist, paying only their expenses. As most were amateurs they had to deal with some tons of bad film but there was so much of it that they put together quite a film that shows what it is like for these insane athletes. And they are not your usual athletes, incidentally. They came from all walks of life, and most were not "professional" riders in any respect. There were several from Europe, which pleased me, and there was a team of 70-plus (that's years, not numbers) riders that made it all the way. The teams compete as relay riders, trying to see how fast they can get there, so they are the first ones in. The director told us, after the show, that many of the participants in this year's race watched that film over and over as they trained so that they could try to avoid the mistakes others made. Among the horrors: kidney failure and a cracked pelvis. Fewer than half usually make it to the end, and the starting lineup is small to begin with: in 2004 there were 19 individual starters. Each one is followed by his (in some years there have been hers but not 2004) own support team. One of the riders dropped out because his team left him! Argument on the road and bam. Over.

There's no doubt that bicycling is my favorite sport.

By the time that film was over I still had remnants of headache but figured I was okay for Morgan, which I was. I am sorry I missed so many films that were offered. There are still a few more tomorrow - that is,later today - and I may take in some more. I hope to find some of the ones that sounded most interesting and buy DVDs.

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