Clermont-Ferrand: Day 9

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival from January 31st to February 8th

Well, it’s pretty much over now. This morning, I only headed to the Maison de la Culture because I’d been emailing Paul Tom, the director of Un pays de silences, and he told me he was taking part in the Expresso Q&A session this morning at 11:30am. I got there before 11, and kind of forgot that these are conducted about 99% in French. Even Paul’s interview would be in French, so I wouldn’t get much out of it, but we’d hoped to meet up afterward. Things ran a bit late with the other interviews and so it was after noon when I finally caught up with Paul and his editor Alain Loiselle after the session. We had a brief chat and arranged to meet up at 5:30pm to get seats for the awards ceremony at 6.

Then I just wandered down to Place de la Jaude again to browse for DVDs at FNAC. I had been looking at some of the titles in the Warner “films criminels” but I didn’t really know where to start (or stop), and then I found all the other Warner and other studio “treasures” that don’t seem to be for sale in any retail outlet I’ve seen in North America. Again, overwhelmed. So I decided to look at Blu-rays. I have a region-free player and so that opens things up considerably, but most French discs just don’t bother with English subtitles, so I stuck with English language films. I found a great new edition of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation which is one of my favourites from him, and then I grabbed a special edition of Le clan des Siciliens, a 1969 crime film from France that stars Alain Delon, Jean Gabin, and Lino Ventura. Lots of special features, hoping some are subbed in English since the film itself has both an English dub and subtitles. Then I spotted something my wife Brooke would love: a Blu-ray edition of Kenneth Branagh’s 1992 film Peter’s Friends. Unable to stop myself, I grabbed the following as part of a 3 for 30 Euros deal: The Red Shoes, Looper, and a bit of a double-dip, a Blu-ray copy of Gondry’s L’ecume des jours. I can give the DVD away to a French-speaking friend.

My FNAC Haul

Then a quick meal at Quick, and back for a small rest. I have to pack and it’s making me a bit nervous, because my suitcase is huge and almost always close to the weight limit. Lots of heavy stuff is going to be jammed into my carry-on, which is a backpack.

It turned out that our tickets for tonight’s ceremony were assigned seating, but luckily we were just one row and a few seats apart. For the first time, I grabbed a pair of special headphones through which the festival provides simultaneous translation for the live presentations. It was actually pretty amazing, and though they were extremely uncomfortable, I thought how great it would have been to have something like that to wear around here all the time. Or you know, I could just learn French.

Clermont-Ferrand 2014 Award Winners

The ceremony was late getting started and filled with the usual thank you speeches, and I actually hadn’t seen more than one or two of the awarded films. It was nice to see hometown filmmakers Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg’s Noah recognized again (it won two awards) but I’d seen it before so I skipped it here. After all the speeches were over, they showed two of the awarded films: Butter Lamp and My Friend Nietzsche. I’m very happy that Butter Lamp continues to scoop up awards and festival selections (it’s playing at True/False, where I’m headed later this month.) But I found the other film, a Brazilian short comedy about a schoolboy struggling to read who finds a copy of Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, the sort of pandering crowd-pleaser that often wins awards but which leaves me cold. It’s played for cute laughs, but I’d rather see a film in which a real child Nietzschean or Marxist takes on Brazilian society. Not so funny, perhaps.

Though there was an announcement about a closing party “just outside of town” with shuttle buses waiting outside, I thought it was best to just get back and finish packing. Paul and Alain were going to do the same. I hope to keep in touch, since Paul’s film is one that I really enjoyed and I think it could use a little bit of support. Maybe we’ll get a chance to show it later in the year.

I grabbed some frites on the way home and am now comfortably finishing up this post before 10pm. The airport taxi is all arranged for 8am tomorrow and I just have to make sure I’m up and ready. Look for a summary post in the next few days. It will certainly take me that long to sort through all the business cards, DVDs, catalogues, and other material I accumulated.

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