I spent exactly 24 hours in Jacksonville, FL this past weekend for the film festival down there, now in its fifth year. Adam P. and I drove down hoping to catch a glimpse of the wildfires that have been ravaging south Georgia, but instead we became engulfed in one of our own. The trip reminded me of Naked Lunch, a book I've read twice; not out of pleasure, but out of a deep need to comprehend and distill its freewheeling prose and structure. I keep replaying the events of Jacksonville in my head over and over, expecting to see bodily fluids selling newspapers to communists and insects selling their thoraxes on the NYSE. Even though I never saw those things, I did see what they represent - the abstract, the allegorical. The trip will forever remain that for me - abstract, like a Jackson Pollack painting or a paragraph of Burroughs. Something splattered on a wall or a page.
That is not to say I cannot recollect the day in concrete terms. Adam and I hit the road early and made the trip in five hours flat, violating posted speed limits and leaving a scar of interstate in our wake. Jacksonville welcomed us with the grand Saint Johns River, conquered by bridges, but flowing in the cardinal direction North like Egypt's legendary Nile. River nerds might clamor at this and say rivers do not flow north or up, but only down.
At the JFF, each filmmaker is designated a 'host', an ambassador for the film festival who kindly drives you to venues and handles any and all personal needs. Jacksonville Mike was Alex's host and we attached ourselves to him. I don't know if Alex filled out some questionnaire about what kind of host he would like to have at this festival, but we couldn't have been any luckier unless it was Wong Kar-wai. Let me revise a famous Taxi Driver tag line: On every street in every city, is a somebody who loves movies who dreams of meeting someone else who loves movies. If we had a list, we could check off the city of Jacksonville.
Alex had arrived a few days earlier for the festival's opening. He said only five or six filmmakers were in attendance. I don't know if Jon Waters was included in that stat, but rest assured, he was there, too. Fate reared its beautiful head and reunited us with Cullen H. of Cinequest/Monster Camp fame and M. Tully of Sarasota/Silver Jew fame. A silver Jew is a Jewish person with blond hair, real blond hair. I met him briefly in Sarasota, but it was a pleasure to chat with a real NYC cinephile.
Blood Car was written up in the local entertainment magazine, eu, and given a complimentary, if occasionally backhanded, recommendation. It twice deemed the movie hilarious, but called the acting "ridiculously obnoxious". You can read it in its entirety here by clicking on the JFF Guide.
Like every film festival, JFF had parties. Grey Goose sponsored an extravagant party in a gutted library right downtown. We went to a party before that where we played the pitch game, in which we tried to pitch movie ideas to complete strangers. A winner is typically determined by a few factors, but mainly completion of the pitch. This entertained us for a while. After that, the rest of the night was a bit of a mess. I arrived at the screening of BC late because I couldn't find a ride to the theater(far away) and had to call a taxi. Somehow I left my cell phone in the cab and had to spend the entire screening and Q&A tracking it down. This is a photo right after I realized where I had left my phone. Alex is trying to comfort me by flashing the ATL sign and saying, "At least you didn't leave it in A-town." What you don't see is the audience through the wall on the left laughing their heads off at BC. We placed second in the audience award for the festival with only one screening of our film. Many other films had two screenings.
I've gone on to sum up this trip with this statement, which embarrasses me: "While I was there, the only time I stepped into a movie theater was to use the bathroom." True story.
In other news, the blood car used in the film was impounded last week. Alex parked it on my street, Archie's street, because parking is limited at his apartment complex. Several days later it was gone, probably due to expired tags. Now, the city of Atlanta has the Blood Car in an impound lot. They don't even realize what they're sitting on - the power, the knowledge, the invention. It's like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I can only hope that one day, when gas prices really are $40/gallon and nobody drives anymore and impound lots become car graveyards, that a couple of randy teenagers pry open that rundown Honda and screw to their heart's content in the backseat. I hope...I hope.