Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Screenings #7-8, Recollected.

#7: Capri Theatre, Montgomery, AL
This screening would serve as a good example of the less successful bits of the tour thus far, although there were a few shining lights, to be sure. Our voyage from the wonders of Columbia to Montgomery was the longest thus far and likely the least enjoyable. We'd been on the road for ages, and would've been completely late to the screening if not for the magic of Central Time. Which is to say, we crossed an invisible line and gained an hour, but still arrived under the cover of night. We were fortunate to have two good friends (from Suriname!) meet us there, a working Xenon projector in the theater, and a really enthusiastic audience member or two (there were only 10) in the screening - she got us to talk about the fundamentals of our work in a way that the previous 6 screenings hadn't. Why did we go? What did we learn? What did Benjen and the other actors get from the experience? Why is this work important?
Aside from the questions and the friends, my gripe about this screening is that we (the filmmakers) felt more than a bit superfluous. I felt like we were gigging - showing up at a space, setting up, breaking down, and leaving as we'd come. The excitement, interest, and aura (hospitality?) that we'd felt in other places was lacking, and staying in an anonymous highway motel after the show certainly didn't help. Montgomery? Sadly, it's as if we were never there.

Millsaps College, Jackson, MS
We crossed the border to Mississippi unknowingly, each previous border crossing met with a "Goodbye _____" chorus, and the first building we came across was a self-described General Store/ Town Center. Built 160 years prior and demolished at some point in its lifespan by winds and rain, this General Store had an incredible collection of 1930s children's shoes, still in their boxes. The proprietors were talkative and sharp, calling me to task for my ignorance of Andrew Jackson's Native American scout (to which I responded "Andrew Jackson who?").
Millsaps offered another university-screening, with a kept audience of students who alternately slept, walked out, or stared wide-eyed at the movie screen. This show wasn't my favorite, either, as we were forced to screen off of DVD for the first time in the tour and I was trapped in the far corner of the room and couldn't leave when the radical artifacting of THE WET SEASON began. In spite of this, our hosts were friendly and talkative, and the Q&A was a bit sharper than normal, thanks to the presence of some academic-sorts in the room (I'm an academic-sort, as well). It would've been great to continue that conversation beyond the screening, as that's where one can begin to dig deeper than what a public platform offers (especially after the 8th Q&A for the same set of films), but alas. It was a university show, after all, and our hosts all had to work the next day...
We managed to find some fiddle players and a boyfriend/girlfriend cover duo on the side streets of Jackson, rubbed elbows with the locals and conjectured as to whether
the broader terms of Southern Hospitality extend to Mississippi as well (surly bartenders, hotel employees, and falafel servers all).