UPDATE: I just learned the great George Romero had passed away, sadly. He was supposed to be the main guest of the Grossmann festival I wrote this article about, and I had a bad feeling about how things might be when he had to cancel. Great respect to a great man, thanks for the most amazing movies and thanks also for the time we had a chance to meet and share a jury duty at Lund Film Festival in 2013.
And here’s the actual post I wrote, before learning of the tragedy…
Here’s a freebie for anyone who likes to grab it, although if you ever make it, I must demand me, Romain Roll, Guy Delmote and few other drunkards around the table in Grossmann film festival last week require to get invited every year as special guests.
Introducing: The No Film Festival! A film festival like no other, ever – we have no films. We even make sure the cinemas in whatever city we decide to organize the festival (most likely: Luxembourg) on won’t play any films during the period of the festival. We of course have a great selection of films every year from all over the world, that we never accept part of the program – Cannes winners, Berlin winners, new films from all these Korean super-talented directors, and none will ever be shown at our festival. We even give the laurel leaves for dismissals.
But oh boy, the other stuff we have organized for the festivalgoers, the guests, the jury (because of course there’s a jury, how else could we decide yearly that we won’t give out prices this year because the quality of films that were not submitted was so depressing?) – there’s a lot of it! Skydiving, drinking, moutain climbing, drinking some more, seminars (about anything but films), concerts, bus tours, wine tasting, beer crafting, art galleries, it’s all there. Only, the films aren’t there to distract the experience.
This came to our mind when sitting at a small town of Jeruzalem, near a small town of Ljutomer, in a small country of Slovenia surrounded by the most breathtaking scenery – wineyards stretching for miles, sky bright blue with small puffs of clouds chasing one another at a slow motion speed, bees buzzing and the always-smiling host of this heartstoppingly great establishment, the Hlebec farm serving us a constant flow of wine from their own grounds, mushrooms picked from the forest this very morning and food so fresh you probably heard it porking around in the backyard this morning. Why go into a cold dark theatre when there’s all this going around us?
Of course, we did, and enjoyed the movies. But really, maybe the reason Berlinale is such a big festival is that nobody wants to go out of the theatres once they get in, with all the snow on the ground and cold winds blowing…
But talking of films, I’m proud to say that as a jury member, I was for the first time able to give the main price to a film that makes you literally say out the name of the festival. Gross, man… I mean, if you haven’t seen The Night Of The Virgin – don’t. I hope I’ll never have to see that film ever again, anywhere. But it’s so masterfully made, shows such a deep understanding of the genre (which is basically torture comedy) and the medium of filmmaking that we just had to give the price to them. We also handed a special mention to Ron Goossens: The Low Budget Stuntman, about a village alcoholic who accidentally becomes a stuntman.
Rest of the festival went in a blur of spritzers in the afternoon, wine in the evening, a lot of Suomi Finland Perkele -shouts and Manowar song lyrics reciting… We were the happiest bunch of assholes in the planet for that short week, and although my body thanks me loudly for getting the hell out of there, my mind knows I’ve found my favorite festival of them all.