Monday, September 17, 2007

Kansas International Film Festival – Saturday, Day 2

What’s the best way to start off your second day of a film festival after being out way too late the night before? Well, going to the Rainforest Café with hundreds of screaming kids, right? Not necessarily MY first choice, but since J & J were traveling with their families, it seemed like the appropriate thing to do. And my chicken fried chicken was pretty good, so no complaints.

So day two started off with “Midnight Clear,” a film starring Stephen Baldwin set in the days leading up to Christmas. The plot intricately weaves between five lonely strangers as they randomly cross paths and dramatically impact each other’s lives in ways none of them could imagine. It’s a beautifully written and wonderfully performed film that keeps you guessing as to the outcome of each of the central character’s outcome. Screenwriter Wes Halula was in attendance and we enjoyed a great Q&A session after the film.

Midnight Clear

After the Q&A and briefly chatting with Wes, I snuck next door to catch the end of the documentary “Strictly Background” so I could hear director Jason Connell’s Q&A. I really wanted to see his film as well as it dealt with the lives of professional “extras” in Hollywood so I wanted to at least meet Jason and see what he had to say about the film. The audience really enjoyed it and were enthusiastic during the talk so it’s a film that I’m looking forward to seeing.

Strictly Background

After lunch at the legendary Backyard Burgers (at least it’s legendary to us) we headed back to the theater to check out the documentary “From the 50 Yard Line,” a film that documents the lives of the 229 students during a season in a high school marching band. It’s a great premise and the filmmakers did a fabulous job of showing the ups and downs in high school band life and the emotion and sacrifice that it takes to be a nationally recognized band program. And I felt guilty for every time that I left a football game at half time to get food and drinks and missed the marching band. Director Doug Lantz and producers Dave Johnson and Dan Lantz were in attendance and gave us an additional enthusiastic look behind the scenes at his award winning documentary. One of my favorite moments of the Q&A was early on when Doug asked the crowd of over 100 people how many of them were in their high school band. I believe Jeremy and I were the only ones without our hands up. Oh well, they’re all band nerds anyway, right?! If you get a chance to see this film locally (hint hint) I recommend that everyone come out and see it.

From the 50 Yard Line

Our third and final film of the day was Irish import “Speed Dating,” a comedy about…well…speed dating. Actually the film was about so much more, with comedy, intrigue, drama, spies, cops with turrets, plot twists, and crossword puzzles, and yes, there was speed dating. The uniqueness of each of the characters and the fantastic performances in this film really propelled the story forward and kept you interested throughout. Director Tony Herbert was in attendance and fielded questions from an enthusiastic audience after the film. I love Irish accents, so this was a great film for me.

Speed Dating

So what happens after the last film of the day? That’s right, two words: After party. There’s as much if not more drama and intrigue in our trip from the theater to the club as we’ve seen in any of the films so far, but I’ll leave all of that for another time. Yes, we did EVENTUALLY find the party after somewhat narrowly escaping with our lives on a few occasions. Next year for the trip we’re packin’ heat. Nuff said.

So, the after party was at the incredible jazz club The Blue Room on historic 18th & Vine in downtown Kansas City and we were treated to some of the best live jazz I’ve ever heard. Lisa Henry was performing that night and she was blowing the doors off of the place. Her band was phenomenal and after a set, she introduced another guest member of the band, none other than saxophonist Bobby Watson. I’ve got Bobby Watson CDs in my collection for crying out loud, so it was a thrill to see him and Lisa performing. Most of the filmmakers that we met throughout the day were there as well so it was a great night of jazz music and film talk. Who could ask for more, right?

Lisa Henry
The Blue Room


Post a Comment

<< Home

free web page hit counter