Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival from January 31st to February 8th
Even though I was in bed by 10:30pm last night, I still woke up at 3am and couldn’t fall back asleep for a very long time. As a result, I slept right through my 7am alarm and didn’t get out of bed until after 9am. I had a 10:30am meeting with Diego Iriarte from Proimágenes Colombia and was able to get to the market in time but just as I arrived I realized I’d forgotten my festival badge. Another round trip to the apartment and back took me about 35 minutes and so I was late but luckily it wasn’t that busy in the market at 11am.
I was feeling a little bit better (although still sleepless and with a nagging headache) today and so I spoke to several people at the various booths, and picked up DVDs from Poland, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Colombia, and the Czech Republic (image above, including my feet – click for larger). None of the film screenings this morning or afternoon looked compelling enough to skip lunch (again) for, so I wandered back up toward the apartment and stopped for food at Drop Zone. It’s the first restaurant meal I’ve eaten since Saturday night and it was nice to enjoy it. I even had a local beer, L’ambrée from Le Plan B (image below).
Since my sleep is still messed up, I decided on a return to afternoon napping, with plans to attend the Happy Hour again tonight to see if I’d be in a better frame of mind. There were still a few people with whom I’ve yet to connect in person, though we’ve exchanged emails. It’s difficult not knowing what people look like or being able to make firm arrangements in advance.
I was back out for 5:30pm and better luck at the market. I met up (briefly) with Canada’s own Danny Lennon (of Prends ça court! and Not Short on Talent fame). He introduced me quickly to Mélissa Bouchard from Regard sur la court métrage au Saguenay, where I know my Short of the Week colleague Jason Sondhi was a guest last year. I also chatted with Vancouver filmmaker Daniel Domachowski for a little while, and met up very briefly with Judy Suh, a young American filmmaker who has come to Clermont-Ferrand to support her film Portraiture, which is playing in the market.
I had no real plans after the Happy Hour ended and so wandered a little bit and found an amazing 20-person klezmer band called KtipietoK OrKeStaR (image above – click it to see a crappy iPhone video) playing in the parking lot next to the market. Sponsored in some way by one of France’s regions (Champagne-Ardenne), there was even food and, of course, Champagne, which appeared to be gone by the time I got there. After about 15 minutes of that, I crossed the street and saw a lot of people hanging out in the bar at the Hotel Oceania. It was a festival event but I think it was for directors and I didn’t recognize anyone after a quick walk around, so I continued toward home, stopping to pick up a few more groceries.
The well-reviewed crepe restaurant steps from my door, Le Menhir, was open so I decided to finally check it out. Amazingly tasty crepes both sweet and savoury. I had one of each and a small jug of alcoholic cider and my total was 13 Euros, which is very cheap to eat out here. I’ll be back for sure.
I have to be honest and say that I was disappointed not to have connected with anyone deeply enough to be included in any evening plans. Apparently, last night there was a huge party that many of the Quebeckers and Canadians attended, but about which I heard nothing. And nice as it was to share dinner with people on Saturday night, it’s the only meal I’ve eaten with other people so far. A little bit of it is down to my own shyness, but I wish there was a way for first-time attendees to be introduced to the festival and the city by someone more experienced. I know other festivals organize mixers and maybe the market Happy Hours are meant to serve this function, but someone like me just needs a little more hand-holding, and I’m sure I can’t be the only one.