We here at Studio 279 are somewhat reluctant to blow our own trumpet. In fact, tootling on brass, woodwind or orchestral instruments of any kind is not really for us. But we feel it is our duty to you as citizens to report, happily, that the screening of our RTS Midlands nominated short The Interviewee at Birmingham’s ArtsFest 2011 on Saturday, which we keep going on about, was an unequivocal success!
For those of you who didn’t make it to the film strand, we’ll merely say we’re not angry, just disappointed. Not that you didn’t catch The Interviewee of course; we’ve thumped the tub on that for many a year, and you can watch it from the comfort of your own computer room, after all. What is less forgivable is that you missed out on some great short films from the local area and further afield. You missed the great family friendly animations in the Flatpack Festival strand, the wholly original vision of Dice Productions’ All Consuming Love (Man In A Cat) in the Animated Artsfest bracket, and some really crazy stuff in the Stoke Your Fires Segment in Birdboy, a Spanish animation involving mice, nuclear disasters, cocaine-snorting bird-euthanising fugitive-from-fascistic-dog-justice owls. You also failed to see the genuinely funny Zeus from Deadly Serious Productions, a pitch perfect send up of pretensious art films, audio commentaries, and eggs.
But permit us if you will to fill you in on how our screening went, in the Just For Laughs comedy category. This strand was by far the best attended; not only were all the seats in the theatre taken, two whole rows of people had to sit on the floor to get in! While we cannot take any credit for the number of comedy fans at the venue, having only filled it to the tune of one, it was gratifying, and nerve racking, to have the film play to an over-full house. The three films that played before it were all well represented in the laugh quotient, and so when the opening of our film met with silence, those nerves escalated. Fortunately with The Interviewee, however, there is always a tipping point. If people laugh at the interrogation scene, we’ve got em. And people did laugh. Hard. Very hard. In fact, whilst referring you to our previous comments about trumpet tooting, the film received the most laughs in all the strand. This was a big relief, a massive surprise, and was extremely satisfying. The man sat next to me, a sixty-ish salt of the earth Brummie with his wife, leaned over to her when the “BBC Birmingham” logo appeared and said “Ah, BBC. That’ll explain it then!” We couldn’t be sure whether that was as in “that explains the hilarity/production values/great cast” or “not remotely funny/total nonsense/waste of licence fee payers’ hard earned”. Our temptation to lean over and say “Excuse me, I was the director of that magnum opus” and press the issue was great, but we ignored that impulse and left the mythical Midlander’s ambiguity play across our minds. When all the comedies had bee laughed at, the organisers led a round of applause as “some of the filmmakers are in the audience” and for the punters to show their appreciation, which they did, loudly. Sat in the front row, we shrunk in our seats slightly, not even a kazoo to trill on, but with what Nick Cave calls “secret smiles in the corners of [our] mouths.” We could then enjoy the eclecticism of the Alternate Worlds programme, safe in the knowledge that the screening had gone much better than we could have expected.
A big thank you to the KINO 10 team for selecting The Interviewee to play at Shortcuts 2011 in the first place, and for scheduling such a great programme of shorts for it to slot into. It was a great honour and privilege to be in such great, funny, exciting and disturbing company (that’s the films, not the patrons.) Check out their website for future local film events. If they’re anything like Shortcuts, you’re in for a treat.