Memories of Cinefest

Syracuse Cinefest

by Donato Totaro Volume 6, Issue 2 / February 2002 20 minutes (4967 words)

Where it all happens: the screening room

For many people the Syracuse Cinefest is as important a yearly event as any. For some it is a pilgrimage they schedule things around so as not to miss. Indeed some would say a strange pilgrimage, to a voluntary state of semi-imprisonment for four days in a Holiday Inn watching (mainly) pre-1935 films from early morning to late night. It may not sound like Mecca, but once you get bitten by the Cinefest bug you remain ‘infected’ for life. I have been going to Syracuse Cinefest since its 12th year in 1992, and only missed two years while I was in Europe. But this upcoming Cinefest, its 22nd incarnation, will indeed be a very bittersweet occasion. The festival’s founder and driving force Phil Serling passed away on January 6, 2002 due to complications after a car accident. Incumbent Cinefesters everywhere were shocked and demoralized by the tragic news. A ‘young’ 69 who still had much to offer the film community at large, Serling was as unpretentious and forthcoming a person as you are likely to meet. It always seemed that Serling was the first and last person you would see when arriving and leaving Cinefest. His presence was omnipotent. The joy he received from the event was impossible to miss. He will certainly miss Cinefest and his friends as much as they will miss him.

Many of the long time Cinefest goers are of Serling’s generation, people who grew up watching the sort of films that are screened at Cinefest. In recent years, many of the steadily increasing Cinefest newcomers are younger people who can not experience the films with the same flair of nostalgia, but as scholars, historians, researchers, or simply as curious voyeurs seeking a glimpse into their cultural past. Which adds up to the fascinating mix of people you find at Cinefest: film buffs, writers, critics, archivists, historians, collectors, producers, and students. Given the advanced age of many Cinefest old-timers, it is a sad reality that every year we seem to hear about the loss of another member. For example, along with Serling and Everson, recent years has seen the death of Herb Graff and Ted Larson. A partial list of such Cinefest regulars past and present include: Leonard Maltin, Steve Bissette, John McCarty, Rob Edelman, Arthur Lennig, Chris Horak, Paolo Cherchi Usai, David Pierce, David Shepard, William K. Everson, Alex and Richard Gordon, Herb Graff, and Tim Lanza.

What is a Cinefest experience like? Well above all else are the films. People that go to Cinefest, go to see movies (with the exception of one person, who will remain unnamed, who spends far more time greasing his elbow on the hotel bar counter than watching movies). Anyone who stays to see every film, and there are many, will leave the festival having seen any where from 40 to 50 films (keep in mind that there are people who don’t see 50 films in year!). Even though the intensive programming that has films scheduled from 9:00 am to 1:00 am leaves little time for meandering, most everyone seems to find time for socializing. Everyone has their own cue for slipping out of the screening room to peruse the huge dealers room, lounge around in the “schmoozing” room (Serling’s coinage), visit the hotel bar/restaurant, take a dip in the pool or whirlpool, or venture beyond the confines of the hotel for food or an alcohol run.

Outside of a special Saturday morning excursion to the Landmark Theatre for 35mm projection, all films shown at Cinefest are in 16mm format. The films are screened in a huge room which are several adjoining rooms opened up to one. There are two 16mm projectors in the back of the room to allow for continuous play. Most of the films are pre-1940, and the ratio of silent films to sound films is approximately 40%-60% (although this varies from year to year). Silent films are always accompanied by piano, and Cinefest is gifted with three amazing film pianists, Phil Carli, John Mirsalis, and Montreal’s own Gabriel Thibaudeau. One of the many things that makes Cinefest special is the eclectic range of its programming. Although there is an understandable bias toward American cinema, these are films that you will not find on any home viewing format (video, DVD) or on cable or satellite television. The reason being that many of the films come from film collectors and archives. In some cases they are films that have been recently restored or have not been public screened since their initial release. Secondly, a large percent of the films lack the type of marquee value that will get them marketed on a mass scale. And, frankly, some are too bad to warrant such investment! But one soon discovers that lesser quality films from a bygone era have a charm that modern era duds do not. Call it camp or a postmodern sensibility that comes with historical distance, but watching a poverty row programmer or a nifty B-film that moves along at a quick clip and clocks in at an hour is rarely painful. When they work, and they usually do, you simply admire the film’s unpretentiousness and forthright narrative efficiency. If the film is bad, before you have time to realize it, it is half-way over! And if it is truly unbearable, you can always slip out to the dealer’s room and make up for lost time by finding a rare out of print book or a piece of sought after movie memorabilia. There is never a lost moment at Cinefest.

Here is a thematically grouped sampling of films which will give you an idea of the varied and unique programming that comprises Cinefest. My selection comes from about 250 films, and these are some that stand out, for a variety of reasons (not all of them honorable):

The (ever popular) Detective/Sleuth Film:

The Benson Murder Case, 1930, Frank Tuttle

The first of several Philo Vance mystery thrillers. This was William Powell’s third (and worst according to Everson) foray as the suave and head smart amateur detective Philo Vance. Begins with expressionistic stock crash montage and then settles into a fairly traditional but enjoyable one-setting whodunit. Atmosphere is maintained through canned sound-effects (storm, thunder, rain) right straight through to Vance’s show-stopping revelation of the murder (the murderer seemed to have the perfect alibi being in room with Vance when gun shot heard but we discover his guilt through protracted scheme with rigged guns, wires, etc.). What struck me most about the film was the wonderful voices of the actors: from Paul Lukas’ velvety, Lugosiesque voice, to Powell’s regal diction, to Eugene Pallette’s frog voice, to the precious Mischa Auer. Also of note is the “investigatory point of view” camera employed to imitate the detective discourse (camera through staircase, atop staircase landing, etc.).

Symphony Murder Mystery ,1932, Joseph Henaberry (short)

Good gallows humor with the most popular line of that year’s festival; as the murdering musical conductor is carried off to prison the following exchange occurs:

    “You can still be a conductor”
    “Conducting what?”
    “Electricity”

The Greene Murder Case 1929 Frank Tuttle. Eugene Pallette shines as the likeable, buffoonish Sargeant Heath, with a flair for stating the obvious. As usual, the killer is the one least suspected. In this case it’s a woman, the sister. Particularly nasty final on roof (which includes what looked like a zoom shot). The killer pushes her sister off the roof, but she is saved by the rafter below. The killer attempts to finish her off but then falls off herself.

The Dragon Murder Case, 1934, H. Bruce Humberstone

Warren Williams replaces Powell but (fortunately) Pallette returns as the affable slow witted sargeant Heath. Some funny lines delivered by him. For example, after the maniacal mother spouts out a story about a dragon living in the pool she walks away laughing and Pallette retorts: “Bet she can tell some interesting bedtime stories.” The costume (rubber arm, talon hand) used by the killer and the way it is shot do not inspire fear or threat.

There’s Always a Woman, 1938, Alexander Hall

This is one of the many films by various studios that tried to reproduce MGM’s “Thin Man” success of mixing Screwball comedy (battle of the sexes) with mystery. Blondell and Melvyn Douglas are excellent in this broad comedy which stops just short of being down-right misogynist (most of the humor is at Blondell’s expense, but then again it’s a convention of this genre). Blondell takes on a case without hubby Douglas knowing it and this sets up an hilarious scene at the snazzy Skyline Club where client Mary Astor is dining with a suspect. Astor’s role seems to be a blueprint for Brigid O’Shaugnessy in The Maltese Falcon (coming into the office innocent and naive, ending up a murderer). There’s the usual quick repartee between husband/wife which shows how little impact a director can have when the script, acting and genre formula is running on all cylinders. The film produced one of the weekend’s favorite lines. After Blondell takes a fall off her chair she asks Douglas to help her up and he replies, “I picked you up once, now look at me.”

The Ever Popular Dealer’s Room

Midnight Madness:

Heat Lightning, 1934, Mervyn LeRoy, with Aline MacMahon, Preston Foster, Ann Dvorak, Glenda Farrell

One of the best from 1992. The film is a template of sorts for The Petrified Forest, 1936 (studio location gas station, drifters, crooks) and is actually better. The film is structured around matching characters: the hilarious blondes that exchange sexual insults throughout the film; the two crooks, one meaner than the other; the two sisters, one feminine; the two woman (lesbian?) on their way to Hollywood, etc. MacMahon’s femininity is repressed through her dress code (mechanic work overalls, hair tucked under her cap). She wants nothing to do with males after (we correctly assume) a failed relationship. But as her sexuality is rekindled she begins to dress the part. To this point, when she shoots her ex-lover/criminal her hair is flowing a la femme fatale. Even with the static, single location, the film never feels slow. The use of swish pan renders a sense of movement, but they are unnecessary because of the clever dialogue and subtlety at all levels (characerization, post-code humor).

Party Girl ,1930

This is one of the best ever of the Cinefest midnight films. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. stars in this alarmist cautionary tale about big businesses that use call girls (“party girls”) to spice up the company party.

Cinefest’s own Party-Goers

The Last Warning, 1929, Paul Leni

Not a rare film, but Cinefest presented a great print of this classic haunted house thriller.

The Ninth Guest, 1934, Roy William Nell

Creepy whodunit set in art deco skyscraper. Foreshadows Agatha Christies Ten Little Indians/Niggers. Messages come out of a radio as the “secret host” as the guests are knocked off one by one. The final scenes become increasingly sinister and are played out in near darkness, with single flickering wall lights as the only light source. Some nasty stuff for the time (including people being electrocuted against gate). Another memorable line: The hero stops the killer short of suicide as says, “Now, get us out of here or I’ll kill you.”

Comedy:

Clinging Vine, 1926, Paul Sloane, with Leatrice Joy, Tom Moore, Robert Edeson

One of the funniest films ever at Cinefest and a film waiting primed for cult film status! Years ahead of its time with its ironic depiction of male dominance. By presenting the woman’s mindless social demeanor in such a tongue-in-cheek manner the males that fall prey to such ludicrous behavior become the saps. Watching the intelligent Leatrice Joy take social tips from her grandmother is hilarious. Try as she may, she just can’t get those eyes to flutter properly or her body to imitate a “clinging vine” (the position a submissive woman assumes when under the spell of a man, hanging from his shoulder). The film slowly looses its subversive edge as she dons the feminine attire and marries. (Like in another Cinefest winner, Beauty and the Boss, it seems a woman can’t be intelligent, attractive and a professional.) However, there is no implication at the end that she will leave her career. The following line indicates the film’s tension between progressive and sexist politics: “Men want a woman that gives them pleasure and a woman dumb enough to marry them.”

Alf’s Button Afloat 1938. Strange comic mixture with The Crazy Gang and Alastair Sim from the underrated Marcel Varnel.

Inside the Landmark Theatre

An Eastern Westerner 1920, Harold Lloyd

Great Western spoof by Lloyd. Final chase between Lloyd and hooded assailants is inspired lunacy with gag extensions of Lloyd running, hiding, eluding.

Thirty Day Princess, 1934, Marion Gering. With Cary Grant and Sylvia Sydney.

Begins with funny, low brow scene in mud bath and moves on to an amusing romantic comedy with Sylvia Sydney playing the dual role of an aspiring actress whose uncanny resemblance to a princess gives her the chance to try her acting skills by impersonating the ill princess on her goodwill trip to America. The film is pure Depression era Escapism. As Everson notes, the plot has a banker trying to get the government to endorse a 50 million dollar loan to the struggling foreign/East European sounding country (Tredonia). When in America the princess notes: “Even the poor people live good.” Vincent Barnett steals the show as the princess’ hapless fiancĂ©e Nicolai, who nicely combines physical (protruding ears, bald, awkward manner) and verbal (wavering between foreign and Brooklyn accent) humor.

Only Me, Lupino Lane

Lane plays all the roles in a theatre setting which borrows liberally from Chaplin’s A Night at the Show and Keaton’s Playhouse but the two-reeler still works as a skeleton for Lane’s clever gag writing. There’s an excellent comic use of synesthesia. The vocalizations of an opera singer is visually echoed with a rhythmically timed pendulum movement between camera and Lane (in drag) moving forward/backward. As in other Lupino Lane shorts, his gag work is supplemented, perhaps more than any other comic, by camera trickery and special effects (arm muscles pumped up, hoisting himself onto the balcony by the seat of his pants [reverse camera], etc.). Includes a parody of Intolerance‘s “mother time” segments.

The Patsy, 1928 King Vidor

Excellent comedy played especially well by Marie Dresser and Marion Davies. Highlight is Davies impersonations of Pola Negri, Lillian Gish and Mae Murray.

Don’t Tell Everything (Leo McCarey, 1927) The first of several Cinefest favorite Max Davidson/Roach two-reelers. Davidson regular Spec O’Donnell plays a great drag scene and there’s a wonderful running gag which ends with Davidson’s car in pieces caught in a water flow and sucked into a sidewalk sewer. Pass the Gravy (Leo McCarey, 1928). Extension of single gag routine plays itself out nicely. A prize winning chicken is accidentally killed and cooked and the guilty family must hide this fact from its owner, invited as a dinner guest. Funny exterior gag of chicken tossed back and forth over high fence and then dozen or so tossed over. Funniest scene is when a young couple behind the seated guest attempts a series of elaborate mimes to inform the father about what has happened. The entrance to the room is flanked by curtains, which lends a theatrical flavor to the mise -en-scene as their performance is played directly to the camera. The Jewish comedian Max Davidson was rediscovered in 1996 at Pordenone, but Cinefest exposed him on this side of the Atlantic and they have provided some of the festival’s funniest moments.

Peach O’Reno, 1931,William A Seiter, 1931

For those of us who love the anarchistic vaudeville carry-over comic style, then Wheeler and Woolsey are one of the great comic teams. This one, along with Diplomaniacs, is among their best.

Oddities:

The Missing Link, 1927, Charles Reisner

Weirdest film of the 1993 Cinefest. It doesn’t have much of a plot to speak of but is a series of sketches linked by Syd Chaplin and his fear of animals. Re-uses his brother Charlie’s boxing routine when he has to referee a duel between two African warriors and finds himself continually caught in the middle. The monkey seriously steals the show from Chaplin (can not imagine Charlie letting that happen!). He breaks eggs, walks around like a human, plays pranks and creates monkey mayhem. Most of these scenes are played out in single takes, making the monkey’s “acting” (training really) that much more impressive. Best scene is the one where Syd hides behind a curtain and replaces a stuffed monkey’s head with his own (again a variation on Chaplin’s hand-replacing gag in The Gold Rush). The real monkey jumps onto the table and acts toward the stuffed monkey as if it were alive, and decidedly female. He courts the monkey, kisses Syd, pulls his nose, etc. The finale is a three-way encounter with titular character (man in gorilla/ape-like costume), Syd, lions and monkey. Syd joins forces with the monkey by putting it on his shoulders and wearing a long coat.

The Man Behind the Mask, 1935, Michael Powell

Quota quickie with high camp value.

Fighting to Win-Collegians #1, 1926-27, Carl Laemmle

One of the several “Collegian-life” snapshots shown at Syracuse over the years. But one is enough. This one dealt with, you guessed it, the big football game. Granted there was good use of tracking shots to follow the players but the intent at “Americana” was simply too overbearing for us Canucks.

Surprises, Discoveries, and Highlights:

A Modern Hero, 1934, G.W.Pabst, with Richard Barthelmess, Jean Muir, M. Rambeau

An interesting entry into the circus film. Barthelmess plays an ambitious circus employee who works his way to the financial top using any means possible. Two recurring themes noted in films of 1992 Cinefest festival are present: the internal need to burst out of one’s social/geographical bounds “I’ve got to get out of …” and the moral question concerning means and ends of the American Dream. His rise to the top results in the death of innocent people and the ironic death of his son (in a car accident). The film plays up a Manichean split of a virtuous mother figure and a corrupt father figure. There isn’t too much to remind one of Pabst’s Germanic background, but one such moment is when Barthelmess’ guilty conscience manifests itself through superimposed faces against the night sky as he travels by train (similar to Lang’s Scarlet Street).

A Tribute to Orson Welles, Return to Glennascaul, 1951, DOP Georg Fleischmann

Has the feel of an episode from Dead of Night. A simple and predictable ghost story but done with a sense for atmosphere (excellent lighting, camera movements and angles). Each shot seems to glow from an onscreen single light source.

The Wonderful Lie of Nina Petrowna, 1929, Hanns Schwartz

Along with Jewel Robbery, this was the hit of the 1994 festival. Chris Horak shows a lack of insight by calling this a “silly bit of fluff” and comparing it to American films in its cutting style. Just after this comment the film begins and we get an incredibly Germanic camera movement tracking backward from a closeup of a clock, out of the bathroom, the bedroom, and to the porch where Nina is standing. The film ends with a shortened version of this shot. Brigitte Helm (who cries too much for my taste) and Franz Lederer are matched again (Metropolis) in a touching tragic love story that comments on military politics (class). Helm is the mistress of an older Cossack General but falls in love with a younger Lieutenant. Helm leaves the comfortable but loveless relationship for a life a temporary poverty with the lieutenant. The General uses his power to blackmail Helm into returning to him. Lederer is caught cheating in a poker game and military honor dictates that he must retire, thus ending his career. Helm (in an American-style sacrifice) feigns that she hates the life of poverty with Franz and returns to the General. The matched finale gains in meaning through contrast with the opening scene. Lederer passes below her balcony but this time does not acknowledge Helm or notice the flower she tosses at him. The general enters and discovers Helm lying on the bed with an empty pill bottle at her side. The camera rests on the lonely flower, then pans across Helm’s lying body, ending on the pair of shoes Lederer once gave her. The film is interesting sexually also, as the boyish Lederer never lights the screen with any sexual tension. The relationship between them is maternal. Like in Metropolis, Lederer kneels at Helm’s side and places his head in her lap. Although he is playing a Russian, his male persona would fit in with Kracauer’s reading of the German weak male of the interwar period.

Maldone ,1928, Jean Gremillon

Film that blew away a minority of Cinefesters, while alienating others with its cubist montage flourishes, striking camerawork (by Georges Perinal), and oblique characterizations. For many, myself included, this is one of the greatest single film moments at Cinefest. A handful of us were buzzing after the screening. Thanks Paolo Cherchi Usai for that one!

The Love Light, 1921, Frances Marion

Despite some atrocious Italian stereotyping which led to such great lines as “picturesque squalor” and a wholly unconvincing Mary Pickford as a peasant Italian- this female directed melodrama is effective and blessed by Charles Rosher’s “pictorialist” cinematography (silhouette shots of seaside women carrying baskets on their heads, static camera, stylized convent set). The women may be tied to men/babies (go crazy when men go off to war or lose their children) but Pickford is the hero at the end in an effective crosscut scene between a miniature boat and interior set. Pickford’s baby is trapped in a storm-strewn ship and the island’s lighthouse is down. Pickford saves the day by improvising a lighthouse by setting a house afire. She saves the baby, marries a good Italian and lives happily ever after.

Tol’able David ,1921, Henry King

Richard Barthelmess gets better and better in this realist David and Goliath-inspired fable. The film is exemplary of a type of film not made in quite the same way anymore: melodrama. When a melodrama fails it is painful to watch, but when successful, as in this case, it can achieve a near-sublime level of middle-brow emotions and complete audience empathy. The film develops the coming to adulthood of young David as he confronts situations which test his brain, brawn and emotional maturity. The heavy, played with a lumbering intensity by Ernest Torrence, kills David’s dog and paralyzes his older brother with a rock thrown at the back of his head. This tragedy sets in motion David’s test of manhood. The father soon suffers a fatal heart attack leaving the mother heartbroken and the family without a breadwinner. David must balance his primal lust for revenge with his mother’s more reasoned appeal to family pragmatism. The scene of the mother, lying in a pool of mud, clinging to David’s leg, begging him to repress his blood lust is pure manipulation, but it works, as do all the similar emotional scenes. The main reason is because of King’s control of the actors, keeping them at an understated level. The film is clearly inspired by Griffith: the Griffithian crosscutting at the end (between David’s first postal drive interrupted by a fight with “Goliath” and the awaiting people at the post office), the realism (the understated acting, the shots of the brother’s distraught wife blankly sitting in a rocking chair with baby in arms) and religious imagery (the mother holding David in a Pieta position, wiping off his sweat and blood). However, as Everson says in his American Silent Cinema, it is doubtful that Griffith (who was originally meant to direct it) would have made a better (or as good) a film.

Pre-Code:

The Jewel Robbery, 1932, William Dieterle

Powell and (lisping) Kay Francis are amazing together in this fast-paced pre-coder. Francis is in a jewelry shop with her rich (older) husband when Powell enters and performs the world’s most polite robbery. Francis is smitten and the film ends with the likely meeting of Francis joining Powell in his escape resort.

The Office Wife, 1930, Lloyd Bacon

Bacon, who had always impressed me with his top notch comedic skills in the underrated Larceny Inc. (1942), comes through with a comic festival highlight. The film still falls into the pattern of woman-as-husband hunters but provides laughter along the way. The film is book- ended by secretaries fainting at the discovery of (first) her bosses’ pronounced marriage and (lastly) his pronounced divorce. In between there are some priceless contradictions, like the following exchange: “You got this job on your brains, don’t forget it. Go on now, fix your face.” Dorothy Mackaill is excellent as the boss-chaser and Blondell in the small role of her encouraging sister. Mackaill shows wonderful pantomime talent with her facial expressions. Of camp interest is the portrayal of the publishing firms top selling woman’s writer, a middle aged, cigar-smoking, mannish dressed lesbian. Funny scene where Mackaill’s would be husband inadvertently reveals how terribly confining married life with him would be. Like so many Hollywood films of this period, the man is much older than the woman. In this case the boss seems old enough to be her father. Loads of great pre-code dialogue.

Her Man ,1930, Dir. Tay Garnett, with Helen Rambeau, James Gleason, Thelma Todd, Slim Summerville

With a cast like that, it can’t but be fun. This belongs to the personally coined “Aw Shucks Genre” (i.e. any film that (seriously) uses any of the following words more than five time: gee, golly, swell, gosh. Made one year after, Her Man follows the much superior Applause right down to the running time (app. 80 min.). It may appear more like a remake of Frankie & Johnny, but the parallels to Mamoulian’s sound classic are plenty: use of location & studio; lateral tracking shots along studio sidewalks; similar plot concerning good guy (sailor/marine) who comes to take woman away from seedy bar environment, momentarily looses her when she feigns disinterest, but reclaims her at end; the mother/daughter characters in Applause are collapsed into one woman here. Nice comic relief with James Gleason and the hat-fetish Summerville. Formally quite exciting, with plenty of movement with the camera and within the frame.

Face in the Sky, 1933, Harry Lachmann

A film that is held together through its weird genre shifts by DP Lee Garmes’ amazing camera work (winner of the W.K. Cinematography award). Begins with some docu-like footage of farmers. The interplay between Spencer Tracy, Marion Nixon and her father/mother/awful suitor are film’s best scenes. Mother sacrifices herself (and her body) so her daughter can escape the oppressive confines of the farm life.

The Famous Ferguson Case, 1932, Lloyd Bacon

This is a lesser “newspaper” genre film but fun fodder nonetheless with Joan Blondell delivering some good pre-coder lines in a Mae West drawl (“Where does she do her best work”). The story pits small time paper types vs. city slickers out to exploit the country bumpkin editor, but the work ethics of the former through novice editor Bruce (Kenneth Thompson) gets vindicated in the end. It’s a Warner Bros. film, so the “little guy” work ethic during the depression is not a surprising turn. It belongs to the “newspaper” sub-genre but mixes comedy, mystery and court drama. In the opening scene “Chester” from The Fatal Glass of Beer is seen as a local. Good rear projection shot of train through background windows reminiscent of The Great Train Robbery.

B-Westerns

The Texas Bad Man, 1932, Edward Laemmle

Tom Mix at 51 still has the screen presence but downplays the stunts in favor of his other trademark: brain over brawn. There still are a few stunts, such as the moment where he waits in a hole and grabs on to a passing coach. The plot is typical B-Western fodder. Mix stars as a lawman feigning as an outlaw (White Heat plot) to catch the bad guys. The film has good black & white, on location cinematography and some unusual elements that keep it interesting. We see Mix impersonate a Mexican, and the villain’s tyranny is underscored with “symbolic” pans that visually link him in the same shot to paintings and busts of Napoleon. Film climaxes with a wild shoot-out at a bank heist.

I’ll conclude on a lighter and more personal note with a grab-bag list of things that make Cinefest special for me:

  • The excitement of checking in after a long 5 hour drive.

  • The first look through the dealer’s room.

    The “Videobrary” Guy”

  • Crowding into one of our hotel rooms to watch more films on our 16mm projector, after having watched films from morning till night!

    Cinefest Lifers at the Holiday Inn

  • Our Saturday night ritual of getting together to vote for and select our version of the Cinefest Academy Awards, the “William K. Everson Awards.”

  • Stopping off for a nightcap at the hotel bar before heading back to the room for the night.

  • Stealing away an hour from the hectic pace to relax in the hotel whirlpool.

  • Enjoying auctioneer Leonard Maltin’s improvised one-liners and sarcastic repartee during the Sunday morning auction.

  • Taking in the gorgeous splendor of the 1920’s Landmark Theatre (when the heat is working, that is).

  • Stopping off at Border’s on the way home to scour for books, tapes, and DVD’s unavailable back home.

  • Smiling and nodding hello to people I’ve been seeing once a year for the last 10 or so years.

    Memories of Cinefest

    Donato Totaro has been the editor of the online film journal Offscreen since its inception in 1997. Totaro received his PhD in Film & Television from the University of Warwick (UK), is a part-time professor in Film Studies at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) and a longstanding member of AQCC (Association québécoise des critiques de cinéma).

    Volume 6, Issue 2 / February 2002 Essays, Festival Reports cinefestfilm historyleonard maltinsilent cinemawilliam k everson

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