11.1.11 I’ve always loved the movies, but I can’t remember the first one I fell for. Was it the trippy cartoon version of The Hobbit? I recall being dragged to a double feature of Lawrence of Arabia and The Man Who Would Be King at an age I couldn’t possibly have understood things like an implied male rape in a Turkish prison, much less withstood a nearly six-hour onslaught of colonial bloodshed.
When I was 9, my sister got grounded for letting me and my best friend watch Purple Rain, an R-rated flick that would barely deserve the rating these days but gave us plenty to feel funny about.
The point is I could tell you my life story through the movies that have shaped me, but I didn’t realize people actually spent their lives making them until I arrived in college, and hipper friends began talking about Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, and Werner Herzog.
In one criticism class, we read an Italo Calvino essay in which the genre-blending maestro talked about his childhood experiences walking into the village to catch looped double features of American films. He always arrived towards the end of the first movie, then had to wait through the second to see the beginning, a process he later turned into a narrative strength.
This week, the Virginia Film Festival comes to town to pull back the curtains, introducing us to the people, the ideas, and the methods that shape our moving pictures. The festival reminds us that film can be political, historical, musical…anything we want it to be. And that, while Hollywood may be the industry’s center, the art grows in places like this.
Take Maestro Fellini’s advice as an order to sample the festival’s offerings as broadly as possible: “You have to live spherically (cerca di vivere la vita come una sfera)––in many directions.”––Giles Morris