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Film Festival Fatigue & True Cinematic Love…

I had the pleasure of attending the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival a few weeks back, and it was an intense pleasure. Two weeks of the celebration of the best of film, both new and old, national and international, big and small. However, as I caught thirty different film-related events over ten days, while still working regular hours, I couldn’t help but fight a sense of fatigue – getting up early to commute to Dublin for the festival and getting home at the strangest hours to write a few words and nod off for a few hours before beginning again. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I do wonder if that sort of thing could ever get so tiring that I might sired of writing about or watching movies? I wonder if I’ll ever suffer what might be described as “film fatigue.”

In fairness, I’m not there yet. And, to be honest, I sincerely hope that I’m a long way of. I write this blog because I love movies, and I don’t think I could justify continuing to write it if I ever allowed that interest to wane or to fade. What’s the point in doing this sort of thing if I don’t truly love it, after all? Sure, I occasionally attend preview screenings and have been lucky enough to be given a prize or two to give away, but this isn’t a full-time job… as much as I might hope that one day it would be.

Still, I can’t help but feel a tiny bit overdosed on film after an intensive ten-day movie marathon. This weekend, for example, I restricted myself primarily to the family film, rather than watching two or three films spaced over the weekend to review. I imagine that I’ll ease myself back into a regular movie-viewing schedule over the next week (maybe even catching an evening film broadcasting on Sky or on some other service), and I’ll be back at full movie-watching capacity for next weekend.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I have little to complain about. I feel cheeky at even suggesting that I’m suffering cinematic indigestion after gorging myself on a wild and eclectic collection of films, where the standard was quite high, with more than a few exceptional films, and even the weaker films having something to recommend them. Hell, I imagine that catching some of the screenings in a vaguely sleep-deprived fashion probably enhanced the experience, adding an especially ethereal quality to the already quite beautiful Baraka, or making the crowd reactions to The Raid that much more engaging.

And, to be frank, I know that even my own cinematic binge is nearly nothing in comparison to that experienced by true film journalists at bigger international film festivals. We’ve all heard those urban myths about film critics showing up to screenings at Cannes so tired that they describe scenes distinctly different from those portrayed on film, or those dealing with large-scale North American film festivals like Toronto or Sundance, where everything seems so ridiculous and incredibly intense. It’s easy to imagine those film writers scoffing at my lame three-a-day average, convinced that I’m some sort of whining wimp.

Truth be told, part of me would love the opportunity to jump in at those sorts of deep ends, as I imagine any film fan would.I love the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, and hope to attend again next year, but I can’t fathom the sheer lunatic intensity of those sort of sacred institutions on the cinephile calendar. If I am a little exhausted after a few days commuting to see films in the city centre, a trip to the South Coast of France would be like a cinematic Apocalypse Now, a literal journey into movie madness, from which I might never truly recover.

And part of me loves that idea, to get lost for a few weeks in the very purest essence of movie-making, to see films first before anybody else has had a chance to rigidly define the discussion of them, to pigeon-hole them, and to classify the response. It would truly be an opportunity to see these films with no preconceptions and expectations, to help form the debate rather than to be confined by it. I can’t help but admit that the possibility is exciting to me.

So, while I might not be racking up the movie reviews this weekend, and while I might be a little reluctant to dive back into a cinema, my hunger for films briefly satiated, I know that there’s a bigger reservoir underneath, waiting to bubble to the surface. Because, I suppose, that’s true and abiding love of cinema. Even when you’re tired and worn out and you’ve seen more films than any sane person would attempt to see in so short a time, you still want more, even if you’re smart enough to know that ou don’t want it right now.

2 Responses

  1. A marathon run of books, films, television series and so on ultimately leads to that point where the human brain can’t soak up what it did to begin with and needs temporary reprieve ! Normally it’s not that I tire of something, but rather I know that I am the stage where I can’t give it the audience attention that I normally would.

    The one thing that I find though is that, after a run of films, I become more selective and choose carefully what films I would like to assign an evening to. Generally I’ll only watch something if my instinct tells me I’ll enjoy it. That sounds obvious, but so many people watch the films their peers approve of and won’t openly dedicate any time to a film that may be utter nonsense, but is particularly relaxing to watch.

    Maybe you were just tiring of the physical process of going to the cinema and sitting down for a few hours. I think I’ve probably said this before, but I love when I haven’t been to the cinema for a while and when I go there again it feels like such an event. The Capitol in Cork used to seem so theatrical with it’s curtains, even if the floors were popcorn velcro to your shoes.

    • I think that was it. Just a little tired of the trappings. I’m getting back into the groove though. Watched Casino at the weekend. I think it’s the smoothest-flowing three-hour film I’ve ever seen. And I’m not ashamed to sit back and effectively clock off. The great thing about having so many movie channels of digital is that there’s always something easy-going to watch available.

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