Why I Dislike Film Festivals*

*Not all of them, just the ones in Florida

Last week, the Florida Film Festival opened here in Orlando. With our press badges in hand, S and attended a Saturday night showing of Norman, a film about a high school student who can’t fit in, and spawns a rumor that everyone believes. It looked funny. I like high school movies, so we went.

And I hated it. I’m not joking when I say I left the theatre angry. Here’s why: it wasn’t funny or enjoyable, it was extremely depressing. Did the review say his mother died in a horrible car accident, and thus he decides to repeatedly try to commit suicide? Does the synopsis mention that his father is also dying of stomach cancer, which prompts Norman to tell the school he, himself, has cancer? No. (And from someone who has a parent with cancer, never should you ever lie about having cancer.)

Okay, but that happens often. Misrepresentation and all. But here’s the thing – every film I’ve ever seen at the film festival has been devastatingly depressing. I’ve been going to the film every year for quite some time, and it’s always the case. Even one claiming to be family friendly this year (Snowmen) dealt with cancer and death. It’s like to be in the film festival, a movie must be sad.

Which got me thinking – is that true? I reviewed some other film festivals happening throughout the state (there are quite a few) and noticed the same trend – many sorrowful, serious films. No comedies, no romances.

Now, I understand a film like, say, Knocked Up, will never be an award winner, but it is entertaining. (Okay, bad example, but you get the point). If a movie is happy in any way, can it not play at a festival? Can it not be taken seriously?

Don’t get me wrong – I love a serious movie as much as the next person, but I’m not always in the mood for one. Film festivals aren’t just full of competing for prizes films. Why not open it up for a more eclectic collection? Or would bringing a comedy decrease the value of the festival, and make it be thought of as trivial?

To be considered good, does a movie have to be sad?

4 thoughts on “Why I Dislike Film Festivals*

  1. Mermanda says:

    I hear you, girlfriend. When I started dating Andrew, I realized that his movie collection was ENTIRELY made up of the most depressing, dark films I have ever seen. I asked him, “When are you ever in the mood to watch this stuff? It’s so depressing…” And his reply was, “Never, actually.” He has since sold off the majority of his dark collection. Now we try to watch comedies exclusively… but once in a while, a “Sundance” drama will sneak into our Netflix queue, and we will watch it and say, “That was the most depressing movie I have ever watched… let’s never watch another drama again, okay?” 😛

    • laurengibaldi says:

      Oh, humor found! I think the difference is that I wasn’t trying to publicize the film festival here, whereas with the magazine we’re trying to get people to attend. Also, our bosses dislike when articles start out with a negative tone (this i’ve learned!), so I wanted to warn you prior to their possible sentence cutting. 🙂

      Also – saw you started the blog!! Guess I know what i’m reading tonight!

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