Samuel Taylor Coleridge came up with it… what he defined as “awakening the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us.” It’s one effect that art—music, poetry, film—has on us: transportation to another time and space, whether comfortingly familiar or refreshingly foreign. It doesn’t matter which—we just like to go there. And that’s why we love to read a good book or watch a riveting film. As my daughter simply put it, “It feels good to sit in the recliner and forget my own ideas for a while.”
The term Coleridge coined for this phenomenon is the “suspension of disbelief.” And although he was originally talking about poetry, it applies to any art form and has evolved in movies since Thespis and the origin of acting itself, to the cinematic pioneering of Antonioni, to the funny/grotesque stylings of Tarantino. It’s that moment when, in the viewer’s mind, Marlon Brando stops being Marlon Brando and simply IS Don Corleone. Sylvester Stallone IS Rocky Balboa. Daniel Day-Lewis IS Abraham Lincoln. Will Ferrell IS Ricky Bobby. You get the picture. Ha.
Sometimes the “suspension” is caused by a filmmaker who’s soooo good that his or her film carries the viewer to another realm entirely; other times it results from the willingness of the viewer to ignore low-budget special effects and narrative hiccups and just go with it. The Super Gr8 Film Festival showcased both methods, in full force, forty-seven times over.
We got to the Court Square Theater lobby just before six on the first night (Black and White night), expecting a long line. Thanks to advanced ticket sales, there was none! Yay! That meant we had enough time to grab a beer at Capital Ale House. Once again confronted with that giant beer menu, I decided to just let the bartender recommend something. I raised my hand and waited to be called on. Michael and Brandy chided me mildly for it, and even snickered, but the bartender came right over and took our order. I chose the first beer the bartender suggested. Unfortunately for him, that variety was upstairs. So was the beer Brandy chose. That’s when Brandy came up with the best freakin’ idea since 8mm film, a device she calls… ready? The Alevator <insert trademark symbol here>. Yes, that’s right, an elevator for beer, so those poor chaps don’t have to scurry up and down the stairs all night.
Before long we heard some activity in the corridor so we drank up and headed out. I’ve never seen so much smiling and hugging, people laughing over their many mishaps during filming, others curiously predicting the slate of films that evening. The line moved swiftly and in just a few short minutes we’d gotten our tickets from Danielle, our programs from April, and beers from John. Beer at a theater is a really nice feature, and so… European or sophisticated or something. But they might consider serving shots next year because, oh my–the nerves. Several people needed a stiff drink :) Anticipation was reaching critical mass. And the place was packed solid.
The films began, and my disbelief immediately ceased. So many films to get lost in, like El Viajera, where a cornfield is the saddest place in the universe, and love is expressed in feet. Or Onward, a solitary soul’s journey to the peak. Jump, with the best slow-motion jumping I’ve ever seen, and Funny Dancing in the City, which had the best message–“So Much Fun!”
One that particularly touched me was Ode, in which an older couple gets ice cream cones together. Old hearts, new love. Something so simple… a film haiku, if you will. I want that. Clean, Classic, Safe 2 also spoke to me. It asks, “What is the meaning of age in the context of eternity?” Seconds later, he sticks her in the freezer.
The rotating shotgun scene in Take One impressed me in a craftsmanship kind of way… yet the couple, whose love endures no matter the circumstances, impressed me emotionally. While all the films were funny/touching/weird/random/sad/nostalgic, the one that elicited the strongest reaction in me was The Alamo. The young man’s voice reading the letter to children… his difficult experience in a war zone getting sanded down to something palatable… “The work we do here is very important.” How does one explain war to a child? I wish we never had to. To me, that film felt SO real that for three minutes, everything else fell away.
The conclusion of that night’s films brought cheers and applause and hoots and shouts, and then we all slowly returned to reality and started to file out. I heard many beautiful comments and compliments among the filmmakers, the actors and participants, and the fans. Everyone warmly celebrating all the achievements of the night, large and small–from the perfect way Barbie rolls across the floor in her car, to how a piece of music fit its film perfectly, to the seemingly effortless way Paul and Tim made it all come together. This buzz of happiness and relief followed us all to the Nile for the after party.
Even though there were awards up for grabs, no one seemed nervous at the Nile. The hard part was over–seeing the film for the first time.. having all those nerve-wracking questions finally answered–did my film turn out at all? Did the music match up with it? Did the ending get cut off? Aaaaaggghhh! All that was over now, and the rest of the night was about being with fellow artists and art lovers, curing one’s lethargy with the loveliness and wonders of friendship.
I’m sad to say that I was unable to attend the Color Night, so I can’t relate that experience. However, if you missed either of the two nights of films like I did, they’re ALL being shown again November 29 and 30 at 7pm. All 47 films on each night!! Visit this link at the Theater web site to get tickets and information.
And finally, here’s a list of the winners of this year’s Festival. Congratulations to all, and thank you so so much for suspending my disbelief for three minutes at a time.
Black & White Film Awards
Best Visuals – Jaguardini’s Electric Jesus
film by Ivan Christo
Best Actor / Actress – Take One
film by Brandy Somers
actor Luke Wilson
Best Soundtrack – El Viajera
film by Ben Fraits
music by Don Townsend
Best B&W Film – Jaguardini’s Electric Jesus
film by Ivan Christo
Audience Choice – Chris Happens
film by Jeff & Emily Guinn
Color Film Awards
Best Visuals – The Other Side of the Record
film by Jay Zehr
Best Actor / Actress – Storm in the Heartland
film by Joseph Huffman
Actor Joseph Huffman
Best Soundtrack – Super Gr8 Heroes
film by Teale Davies
music by Bran Flakes
Best Color Film – The Birds and Lady Justice
film by Aaron Cook
Audience Choice – Herbivore’s Revenge
film by April Sedeen & Tim Estep
Paul & Tim Award – Paper Plane Pilot
film by Elwood Madison III
Tim & Paul Award – The Alamo / La Corrida
films by Jeremiah Knupp & Holly Marcus
Stay tuned for more super photos of the festival this week! And see you at the encore presentation!!
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