Tuesday, January 29, 2008

These Furman University students seem happy--but
have they fulfilled their CLP credit for the semester?

GREENVILLE, SC -- Tonight’s screening at Furman was a qualified success. On the one hand, it was a room full of laughers, and that’s the most immediately gratifying response available to a filmmaker or performer. Pin-drop silence is a finer gratification, but I’m happy to make do with guffaws, which proliferated throughout the Burgiss Theater almost the whole way through (Elizabeth Povinelli's remark that "There's a whole creepy side to Catholicism--which I experience in the south, actually--" got an especially nice laugh). And the auditorium, which seats 150, was perhaps 2/3 full. Furman has a handy program called CLP--the Cultural Life Program--handy for visiting filmmakers, that is, because students get credit for attending gallery exhibits and oddball experimental documentaries about how coastal homosexuals, Jewish intellectuals, and drag queens respond to French-Catholic organ music. After the show, in the lobby, there were two tables set up, one with Apparition-related merchandise and the other where the audience got its CLP ticket validated, like a parking chit. One of these tables was mobbed by cinephiles.

My only real disappointment was that the 30-inch extravaganza in the Sunday Arts section of the Greenville News didn’t appear to have convinced many people to brave the balmy evening to see the show. Were there even ten people there who weren’t Furman students or faculty? I really am being such a whiner for pointing this out, because it was a very good and good-sized audience, but there’s just this feeling of—exactly what kind of press do you need to fill a theater? Thirty inches above the fold on the front page of the sports section? The crime blotter? If thirty inches doesn't cut it in this town, exactly what kind of organ--but now I sound bitter.

The day was good. Lunch with long-lost Liz Lopez, Lowell '88, now Liz Lopez Anderson with a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old and a husband who teaches religious studies at nearby Wofford College. Perhaps Apparition has a future in Greenville. Shouldn't the film that introduced the word "blow-job" to church screen at BJU? With a Google News alert that the Mobile Register had posted their story, I felt justified in taking an hour to finally design a press page for apparitionfilm.com. It has three—count them!--features, and zero reviews. I’m looking forward to seeing what became of my interview with the Beaufort Island Packet, which I enjoyed doing, and with any luck I’ll pick up some more ink over the next ten days. Meanwhile, I have to thank Thomas Harrison at the Register for this line in particular:

"Festa, based in San Francisco, has put together 31 colorful interview subjects that likely would chase Ken Burns off the premises."

And if this film achieves nothing else...