I'm no big movie goer. I'm just too darned hyperactive to sit anywhere for very long unless I'm earning money doing it.
So when it was announced a year or so ago that some people in my town were organizing a film festival, I blew right past it. Paid it no mind. Figured it was for some other swathe of Montclair society that dug artsy flicks.
But last week, the festival became too damned big to ignore. I discovered that just about everyone I knew had bought tickets to something--whether it was the opening night party, panel discussions with various artists, or just tickets to various festival films around town. I suddenly realized I had seriously missed the boat.....I was a hopeless hoser.
But then my friend's hubby had to leave town and she offered to take me as her date to some of the screenings. I took her up on her offer, figuring I'd sit through some weird films and pretend I was part of the party.
I should have known better. I should have realized up front that this was happening here, in Montclair, a town I moved to precisely because of its lack of pretense and generally intelligent, inclusive vibe. Yes, the movies were mobbed. But no one was dressed to the nines or spouting semiotic drivel. There were t-shirt- wearing volunteers everywhere. Kids of all ages filling the seats. Engaging, friendly artists opening or closing the movies being shown. Within 10 minutes, I felt a part of what was happening.
Over this past weekend, I laughed 'til I couldn't breathe as I watched Kumare, a documentary about what happens when an Indian American from NJ grows his hair and beard, dons a funny outfit, declares himself a guru and heads out to Arizona in search of disciples. I surprised my mother for her 78th birthday with tickets to the Red Shoes. When she heard the widow of the director speak and realized she was about to watch her favorite film of all time--restored to its original glory-- she began to cry. And her tears didn't stop until the house lights came up. I scrambled back into town Sunday night for a 9:50 showing of An Oversimplification of Her Beauty and I'll admit. I scratched my head and had no idea of what was going on. But what the heck. What's fun without a little confusion?
I finished this incredible week having fallen in love with Montclair all over again. I was so proud of what this town had pulled together and the willing viewers who helped to make it a success. I guess I'm writing this to thank those at the helm who had the courage and the vision to make something so wonderful happen out here in the burbs. You did great things for this town and reminded all of us why we live here.