Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Aarhus (part 7) - Party Of Stairs

Not *stars*, but *stairs*.

Downstairs we all come together - I’m a little bit confused that the film festival jury is invited to the Filmmakers Party, isn’t there a conflict of interest there somewhere? I mean, what if one filmmaker decides to buy all of the judges drinks... wouldn’t that sway their decision? Well, maybe these jury members have already made their decision. I know the times I’ve been on the Raindance Film Festival jury in London most of the other jurors saw the films on DVD instead of in the cinema, so maybe the jury already has picked a winner? But that brings up a different problem - what if one of the jury members gets drunk and spills the beans? What if they accidentally announce the winner when the festival is only half over?

I should be excited to meet all of the film makers, but instead I’m worried that the jury members are going to the party, too. The coolest thing about the festival so far is that Marina (fest director) has told me they have something like 40 film makers at the festival - too bad they seem to only be going to their own movies. I’d love to talk with them - no matter how bad the films seem to be, these folks actually worked their butts off to make the movies. They had a passion for that story and just had to tell it. My best times at film festivals are when I get to meet or hang out with the film makers. At Raindance I’ve hung out with the makers of the comedy film DON’T ASK DON’T TELL where they took a 1950s alien invasion movie and turned it into a comedy about aliens with a Gay ray. At Temecula I met the guys who made KILLING MICHAEL BAY and have since had many beers with them when they were in town. I bumped into the crazy Canucks who made JESUS CHRIST: VAMPIRE HUNTER when they were in LA a few months ago setting up their new film BLACK KISSINGER. So I really look forward to meeting these 40 film makers, even though I really haven’t had any free time to see movies since I’ve been here.

We all pile in a couple of taxis and drive to the far side of town near the docks - about a 35 minute walk from the hotel. The taxis pull up next to a building overlooking a bunch of crane equipment and we all get out. This isn’t a bar or restaurant or night club, this is a *very tall* apartment building.

Marina leads us through a gate to the building’s front door, which she unlocks.

Behind the door is a stairway, which Marina starts up. This is a very narrow, very steep stairway. Almost a ladder.

We climb a couple of flights and I’m getting winded... One of the guys on the jury, the college film prof, isn’t young - and he’s lagging a bit behind.

We climb a few more flights - will these stairs ever end? We've climbed a dozen flights so far and we haven't reached wherever this darned party is. I wonder how many more flights we have to climb when we come to the end of the stairs and a locked door. Finally!

Marina unlocks the door and beyond it - more stairs.

More stairs? I almost break down. Is this some Danish form of torture? "You will continue to climb stairs until we break you!"

We start climbing flight after steep and narrow flight, and it’s explained to me that these are the ritzy luxury apartments.

Apartments? I thought we were going to a party? I know this isn’t Marina’s apartment - I went there on my $500 kroner cab ride on the day I arrived. So whose apartment is this, and why are we going there?

We keep climbing flight after flight of stairs - passing doors to the other luxury apartments. By now I’m sweating like crazy and can barely catch my breath. When we get to the end of the stairs and another locked door, I know that if Marina unlocks it and there are more stairs - I’m going to have a heart attack. My heart is pounding so hard right now that it’s going to burst out of my chest like that thing in ALIEN.

Marina unlocks the door and....

More stairs!

But just one steep narrow fight leading up to the penthouse living room. A beautiful view and a sofa to collapse on. "Would anyone like a drink?" "Water for me - bring a pitcher." They don't understand the joke.

The strange thing is that there are no film makers here. It’s only us, and a couple of guys in the kitchen and Siggy. I ask if the film makers are coming and Marina says they’ve decided to fix us a special dinner instead of having us just go to the bar where the film makers are.


So we have a few drinks while the two guys are preparing dinner, and talk about movies and stories and all sorts of other things. The jury members and the other guest speakers and panelists are great people - all passionate about movies. We all like different kinds of movies, but the cool thing about film folks is that we all have certain films in common. In Denmark you can discuss TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE and everyone has seen it.

Dinner is served and it’s... interesting. You see, they’ve gone all out to impress us, so we’re getting a meal of amazing delicacies. There’s coconut and limes. Of course, those are delicacies in Denmark. In Los Angeles there’s a guy with a pick up truck serving fresh coconuts on the street every Sunday afternoon to the Mexican families when they get out of church. And there are guys selling bags of limes on the freeway onramp, as well as guys selling lemons and guys selling oranges. But I pretend to be impressed and eat all of the “exotic” foods. The meal is actually really good and I had a good time even though there were no film makers. I found out the penthouse was owned by one of the festival’s patrons - it’s usually vacant, place for visiting businessmen to stay.

They keep filling my wine glass throughout the night, and I’m getting hammered. As it gets closer to midnight, I realize I’d better get going. I have my postponed consultations tomorrow morning, plus a panel on making Indie Films, plus I’d like to see a couple more movies. Others are saying goodnight, so I join the exodus....


Climbing down that very narrow and very steep never ending staircase. A couple of times I almost trip. I imagine falling down those stairs. I know Chuck Waters, the stuntman who did that big stair roll at the end of THE EXORCIST. The day after doing that stunt he flew to Seattle to fall off the top of the Space Needle for PARALLAX VIEW. Chuck is amazing - still doing stunts at... well, he’s had his AARP card for a while. I am not a stunt man, and rolling down this steep narrow staircase would kill me.

I get to the bottom unharmed and must walk the 35 minutes back to the hotel. I’m exhausted and drunk and alone in 30' weather on dark cobble stone streets. It seems to take me forever to get back to the hotel. I set my alarm and fall into bed. Sleep envelops me.

Tomorrow is my last full day at the festival. Hopefully, I’ll get to see some movies.

- Bill

1 comment:

Nicolas Van Peteghem said...

the story of your travel in Denmark is so depressing !!! it looks like a bad amateur private screening with drunk students. but what is more sad is the feeling of loneliness... you were bored to death at this festival, weren't you?

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