Saturday, April 16, 2016

Chattanooga Film Festival - 2016

I have always loved watching movies.  Ever since I was a little kid, movies were more for me than just mere entertainment.  When people talk about the "magic" of movies, most people think that they are just talking about the special effects that are used to see things that you wouldn't be able to see in real life.  But for me, the "magic" of movies was something more.  It was how movies were able to draw you in and make you a part of what was happening.  A way to escape the mundane and be a part of something more.  Even bad movies (for which I have an ever-growing appreciation) were filled with their own unique charm.

One of the other reasons that I have always loved movies is because of the community of fellow movie fans.  Unlike other forms of entertainment (books, comics, video games, sporting events, etc.), you would be hard pressed to find someone in industrialized societies who has never seen a movie.  They are universal.  It does not matter if you enjoy history, sports, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, non-fiction...there are movies about it.  Not everyone is going to have the same taste in movies and not everyone with similar tastes is going to have the same opinion about the same movie.  But, no matter how diverse people are, movies are a common thread that can bring everyone together.  And that is exactly what happened at the Chattanooga Film Festival.
Me, Clint Howard, Daniel

A couple weeks ago, I was able to go to the Chattanooga Film Festival with Mass Listeria (thanks again, Daniel and Tim, for bringing me on board...puns and all).  For four days, the Majestic Theater in Chattanooga was filled with movie lovers of all shapes and sizes.  Comedy, horror, drama, documentaries, short films, animated films, independent films...the festival had movies for everyone, regardless of tastes.  Not every film was for everyone.  And some genres might have been more heavily scheduled than others.  But, regardless of taste, there was at least one movie there that everyone would have enjoyed.

I will be posting reviews of each of the movies that I saw, but that is not the purpose of this post.  This is about the overall atmosphere of the festival, because that is one of the things that I think makes the Chattanooga Film Festival so unique.  Regardless of what you think about the south, there is something undeniable about southern charm.  And Chris Dortch and his co-conspirators (of which there are too many too name) put as much love and devotion into creating the Film Fest as your grandmother puts into her home-made biscuits (or chicken 'n dumpling, or strawberry jam...or whatever your grandmother's specialty is).

Chris Dortch talking to the "patron saint"
of CFF, Joe Bob Briggs

It was abundantly clear that the Chattanooga Film Festival is not just about watching's about loving movies.  From the fans, to the press, to the volunteers, to those who had created the was clear that everyone at the Chattanooga Film Festival had a love for movies!  Regardless of how vastly different someone's opinion of a movie was, the differing views were expressed with respect and genuinely wanting to hear what others thought.  I think that this was aided by the fact that the theme of the weekend was "respect cinema."  Respecting cinema doesn't just mean "enjoy the movie."  It meant that you should respect the entire movie-going experience.

Whenever I think of the "experience" of watching a movie, I rarely think of only the movie and nothing else.  I think about the people that I was with.  I think about the emotions that the film elicited.  I think about the conversations and debates that follow the movie.  And based on my experiences at CFF, I do not think that I am alone in that view.  The Chattanooga Film Festival excelled in setting an atmosphere that was built around the love of movies and the love of discussing movies.  Even though some amazing movies were shown, if you ask anyone who attended the Chattanooga Film Festival what they thought, I doubt that the first thing they would talk about would be the actual movies.  It would most likely be the people they met and the fun that they had.  Yes, the people that they met were probably due to the movies they were discussing.  And the fun that was had might be in large part due to how much they enjoyed the movies that they saw.  But when discussing the Chattanooga Film Festival, I have yet to talk to anyone, or read any reviews, where a list of movies was the first and only thing that was discussed.  Even on our two-part episode of the breakdown of movies that we at Mass Listeria watched (found here...go give it a listen!), it was impossible to dive into the movies without first talking about our overall impressions.  Even after watching 16 movies (along with a couple short films and other various events) over the span of four days and feeling like my eyes were going to start bleeding at any minute, I still wasn't ready for the festival to end.  And that, to me, is the magic of movies.

Thankfully, that same environment and love for movies is going to be extended beyond the Chattanooga Film Festival.  Chris Dortch and Mise en Scenesters are also in the process of getting Cine-Rama up and running in downtown Chattanooga, where unique and interesting movies will be shown year-round.  If you are a fan of movies, send your support their way!  And if you are able, I highly recommend that you try to make it to the Chattanooga Film Festival next year.

If you enjoy movies, conventions, comics, games, cartoons, Star Wars, or just about anything sure to check back soon for all things geekery!!  In the meantime, follow me here, on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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