I don't know what we would have done if we had left Atlanta any later and missed the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival's interactive iron pour at Sloss Furnaces. It was a casual itinerary we set for ourselves, but this kind of antique entertainment is rare for a film festival. Imagine if Cinequest had had us build a computer or Sarasota a beach umbrella.
Just a quick drive from downtown, we arrived just after the shuttle buses crammed with filmmakers, festival staffers, jurors, and media personnel. Perfect timing. Our guide was Kyle McKinnon, one of two programmers of Sidewalk. Now a historical landmark, Sloss was once a towering inferno of pig iron, or raw iron production, which is used to make steel. In addition to giving us visitors a glimpse into this once thriving industry, it also gave us a window into the once thriving fears of humanity; by that I mean vampires, spiderwebs, graveyards and the grim reaper. Someone saw this landmark and said, "This would make a great haunted furnace," and so each Halloween it mutates into the Sloss Fright Furnace...group rates available. A few minutes of marveling led Alex to compare this facility to Axis Chemicals, where Jack Napier undergoes his infamous transformation.
Soon we were redirected to the actual location of the pour, just a short walk from this casket and graveyard. About a dozen iron workers wandered around as we were gathered around a small table like a class on a field trip to hear instructions. Each one of us was given a 4"x 4" block of sand and resin in which to carve a mold for the iron. Our paintbrush was a rusty nail. You'll notice that the designs come out backwards post-pour. They told us that going in so that's why Alex wrote blood car in reverse.
Below is a before/after series of our iron creations.
A bunny dreaming of having wings.
The blood car strikes again.
Pacman in trouble.
One of my favorite things about attending films festivals is how everything from the mundane to the grandiose wears some cinematic significance. First and foremost was Sloss, which resembled the ironworks from Days of Heaven, Cobra and T2 and countless others. Just an hour earlier after dropping our bags at the Redmont hotel, we stopped at Chick-fil-a and I heard a little girl say the word 'mayonnaise' like Louis Gossett, Jr. in An Officer and a Gentlemen. There must be a switch in my brain that turns on this total recall of cinematic information and applies it to each minuscule phrase or act. I don't know if this happens to everyone. I forgot to ask Alex and Katie. As if I weren't submerged enough already in the cinema at a film festival, I have to ascribe cinematic meaning to non-cinematic events. You could compare it to getting into the spirit of Christmas, I suppose.
A couple dear festival friends and phenoms were present at this ironclad Sidewalk tradition, including Gabe and Dan from the Atlanta Film Festival, Joe Swanberg of Hannah Takes the Stairs and Jeremy Saulnier (Son yea; pictured in Black Cat t-shirt) of Murder Party. The latter film could be deemed Blood Car's sister film on the festival circuit, playing similar festivals and taking BC's spot at a few festivals or the other way around. Alex and Jeremy joke about it. I'm not quite sure if it is a myth or not, but I've heard multiple ruminations about it. Certain festivals not dedicated to a specific genre of film might only program, say for example, two horror of sci-fi films when in fact more would certainly be worthy. Balancing a program and creating an identity for a festival obviously factor in to these decisions so I see why such a theory is given merit.
Leaving Sloss, I warmed up to the Axis Chemical's comparison Alex made. I've been holding back a little here out of journalistic objectivity, but this iron pour was rather awesome! I felt like I left with a permanently deformed smile on my face.
That night we dined with filmmakers from Kamp Katrina, The Paper, Jeremy and a few jurors and festival staffers, all delightful people who we corrupted with a game where we re-imagine songs in a scatological manner. I'll get into more detail on this later...or maybe not.
That night, I watched The Ten, directed by David Wain. From the creators/actors/comedians behind The State, it was on the whole a very funny series of sketches united by the theme of the Ten Commandments. The animated story in the film was the biggest miss in my eye and there was an audibly louder applause and hooting for Michael Ian Black's brief appearance as a prison guard. As it was the opening night film, it was held at Birmingham's majestic theater palace, The Alabama. Unfortunately for movie lovers, this theater's bread and butter is everything but movies, suffering the same fate our beloved Fox. You take it where you can get it, they say. That notwithstanding, I was so giddy to be back in the festival milieu taking in films and being around filmmakers and film lovers. So many were in attendance because Sidewalk is nearly top-dog in the hospitality department, flying down filmmakers and lodging them on the festival dime. It's fantastic. We live a quick two hours away and they offered to fly us over.
We ended the evening with a nice little loft party at Rachel Morgan's, the other lead programmer. She had a tiny little projector showing Short Circuit and The Class of 1984, which was released in 1982 for some reason. I guess they were aiming for dystopia. Michael J. Fox looks very young in the film...and tubby. Blood Car screens tomorrow at 945pm.