A dummy guide by a dummy. If it doesn’t work, I don’t know what else will.
1. Seek out what kind of a film festival it is.
There are different kind of film festivals anyone is putting up, and that pretty much depends on how those organizers wanting to get. Some established film festivals are clearly intended to launch highly publicised new films, of both arts and commercial values, and to market them to distributors worldwide. So you can expect stars to flock by, press to scrutinize the film venues, and these are how Cannes, Venice, Toronto often associated with.
Some film festivals in other countries has different kind of intention. Singapore International Film Festival always gives spotlight to films within South East Asia region, an applaudable intention considering the country being a media hub in the region. The clueless Jakarta International Film Festival has been busy defining itself as a film festival of whatever films they can chip in.
Bangkok International Film Festival? A film festival headed by a president from the nation’s tourism authority which definitely has no direct relations to the film industry. Oh wait! There’s this film festival organizing committee, but they’re based in the US, and that explains the lack of Thai presence in the whole event.
There you go, a still-failed attempt of transporting Cannes to Siam Paragon.
2. Mark out the schedule.
How can we do this if the schedule was only released 3 days prior to the festival?
Thus, the gambling’s on.
3. Check out the venue.
Shouldn’t be a problem if the whole festival was only situated within one shopping mall.
A film festival in a cineplex?
A cineplex in a shopping mall only?
Be sure that you are friendly enough to the waiters/waitresses of the food court as you can only spend your meal break there. Hey, it’s a festival, what do you expect?
4. Work out your charm.
Brush your teeth every morning, noon and night, give your gorgeous smile to the festival officers or any volunteers working in a front barrier, the luck would be with you in the form of a press pass, or any pass to let you in for free.
Add that with rubbing skins or patting shoulders with fellow journalists, filmmakers, or whoever people with badges on. Striking up a conversation with some dashing film critic will turn out delightful, trust me! Especially if he remembers your name after the first lengthy conversation.
5. Be an unforgiving opportunist.
Now you’ve got your pass, you’ve got privilege to grab any films you want, better save up than feeling sorry to miss out any of them. Life’s not fair, I know, but then, whoever says it is when it comes to films?
6. Be judgmental.
Hundreds of films within the course of 10 days, that surely does look good. Let’s just say there are 150 films, that will give you an average of 15 film in a day.
What time are you gonna sleep? What time are we gonna go clubbing? What time are we heading to Chatuchak? This is Bangkok we’re talking about.
So why not settle ourselves comfortably in this decision: if a film does not impress you within one hour, leave the theatre, and nothing should prevent you from doing so. Award-winning films? Renowned actors? Directors in attendance?
How about shifting to another screening of films that satisfy your heart, mind and soul? The ones that you will clap wholeheartedly by the end of them? Now that’s what I like to have.
7. Indulge yourself.
Sitting alone in a dark room full of strangers while trying to comprehend the films takes up your mind’s work that much. Thus, if you feel someone giving you a look of appreciation, a suggestive gesture of tenderness, don’t force yourself to reject them. Take a good look, who knows you might end up having fun?
Add that to surrendering your tough principle of staying away from popcorn and sodas. Remember, watching 4-5 films in a day requires tremenduous amount of energy.
8. Act cool.
This applies to not having a starstruck if Willem Dafoe appears in front of you and looking much better in real person, or not looking drunk after continuously sipping alcoholic drinks before a ceremony begins.
9. Give yourself a day off from films.
Get a life, folks! Seriously!
10. Watch films. Appreciate them.
After all, this is what a film festival should be, a gathering for film lovers to communally watch films. Clap for them, loathe them, talk about them, curse them, praise them, whatever acts of appreciation you have for the films, this is the chance for you to show off what you have kept in store all these time.
Believe me, no more clueless people who storm into 21 cineplex watching any films the cineplex offers, or the posh-yet-brainless people often seen in a lobby of plush cinemas who can not even pronounce the title.
Film festivals are one of the reasons people like me would be more than willing to sacrifice anything to get a good film-watching experience.
From various kind of people encountered to wacky ticketing system, the package is simply hard to resist.
Alas, here’s to more!