Got in trouble down in New OrleansI must admit that I was strung out, painted in the corner of a limousineSomeone called piano fighterI'm a thin ice walker, I'm a freelance writerHold me tight, honey, hold me tighterThen let me go, piano fighter —Warren Zevon
At this point in the festival, approaching 20 features, I find my head in some kind of liminal zone. Like a marathon runner hitting the wall, I’m living in the present, and the movies become a patchwork, an image quilt. Bell Road is my artery to the fix as I slip past the construction, taking the sidewalks on my bike if necessary. Repetition: twice, three times daily, the day a sunny corridor to get me back to those dark screening rooms. I don’t mean for it to take on this hallucinogenic romanticism, it just does. Hence the Warren Zevon quote. I’ve crossed over, now, I’m scrubbing the piss, shit and blood out of my clothes at night, I’m learning the shifts of the staff at Empire Park Lane. Park Lane 3 is cursed, they say, with technical issues. This doesn’t alarm me.
I am, after all, a professional.
The Oxford was jammed with students coming into Halifax from far and wide at 1pm on Wednesday afternoon, for a screening of North Preston Music Video, the song “North Side” written and produced by teenagers living in North Preston. The video and a doc on its making were followed by Sylvia Hamilton’s The Little Black Schoolhouse, about the history of segregated schools in Nova Scotia. I wasn’t able to stay to see it all, but what I saw looked fascinating, filled with educated voices, faces, historians and people who have experienced a systemic discrimination in their lives. I loved being in that room for the screening… it was a real social event, people saying hello, catching up. Lots of teachers, I’d suspect, and the kids seemed to enjoy it, too.
I managed to catch Reservation Road, a new drama directed by Hotel Rwanda’s Terry George. It’s set in upper middle class Connecticut, as Mark Ruffalo’s character, driving home one night with his son from a baseball game, hits and kills another boy on a dark country road, and doesn’t stop. Playing the father of the dead boy, Joaquin Phoenix obsesses on finding the perpetrator, jeopardizing his marriage to Jennifer Connelly. The fool. It’s a dark, tear-saturated suburban drama.
In the evening I went to the Canadian Shorts I to support the film produced by my friend visiting from Toronto. It was a great program, highlights including White Vans, a short doc about the pain and anger in having your bike stolen, Rock, Paper, Scissors, a look into the world of three children living in Geneva, Florida, and their first understanding of what sex is (quantified as “rubbing bellies”), and Everything Is Connected, a comedy about a father and son trying to communicate and getting stuck. In the interest of full disclosure, that last one was the one produced by my friend. But I did really like it. That is, I would have liked it anyway.
Eschewing further screenings for the evening, a few of us decided to check out the Power Post party. I’d say it was “me and my entourage,” but who’s to say I wasn’t the entourage to one of my other friends, like maybe the producer fellow. That seems much more likely. It was a fun time, with open bar and lots of corridors. My friend, casting director Erin Hennessey wrote “Mucky Muck” on my press card with a marker. There was plenty of talk about the various shorts, especially the Atlantic Shorts III that most had seen. The party moved up a block to Tribeca, where the chicken wings came out, and more beverages flowed. Good times.
Speaking of entourages, I heard the juiciest bit of gossip at the party. A reliable source informed me he’d seen the last episode of Entourage Season 4, in which the boys manage to get another feature project green-lit, a project they plan to shoot in Nova Scotia. Seriously folks, Turtle, E, Drama, Vince and Ari may be coming to Halifax. Prepare to hug it the fuck out, bitch!