The IIFFF Documentary Screening of Chet Zar: I Like to Paint Monsters went incredibly well, yet I am still reeling from the experience! Some journeys go smoothly, while others have a few road bumps. And then there are those that baffle even a seasoned traveler, simply because everything that can go wrong, does. This trip fell into that third category! Travel stories are rarely interesting enough to write about, but a few high points will help you to appreciate the conditions surrounding my first trip to New York. While making the two hour drive to the airport I discovered that my trusty phone had given up the ghost. For someone like me, certainly most people in the United States, not having access to your phone can be frustrating under normal conditions, like in the line at the grocery store, but not having it while traveling afar is much worse. Not only would I be deprived of music, camera (all pictures in this blog are stolen), text messages, social media, and Google’s incredible abilities at locating things, but also navigation and that most seldom used function: making phone calls. I further discovered that every connecting flight would be rerouted and I would be arriving quite late, and at a different airport than my ticket indicated. Scurrying about enormous airport terminals, nicotine deprived, and incapable of contacting my New York hosts or any friends and family members. Needless to say I made it, but my luggage did not. Now I suppose I could have been at odds with this experience, perhaps relying on a sense of entitlement to carry me angrily through the motions of my journey. Instead I harkened back to the great Gonzo of Journalism, Hunter S. Thompson, and told myself, “Buy the ticket, take the ride!” and in doing so allowed myself to be fully immersed in the present moment. I was not distracted by taking pictures, social media, or emails. I was not floating off in musical reverie, or searching my device for good places to eat. As a result of this seemingly negative turn of events I had been afforded an opportunity to be here now.
Senses heightened (perhaps from the smell of my now two day old clothes – remember no luggage) I joined Chet Zar and Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival director, Hugues Barbier, at Cinemapolis in downtown Ithaca. Like most college towns, Ithaca has a lively downtown culture and great people watching, which I indulged while we rounded up Zarmy members Aaron Verity, Miles Parker, David Sherman, Kristy Cash, and Jonathan Silva, for the two o’clock screening. After briefly introducing the film we settled in for yet another ride on the I Like to Paint Monsters coaster. It is always interesting to see which parts of the film resonate emotionally with different crowds, and it is great when you can feel the audience responding to your film as you intended them to. This screening was no exception, and I was happy to be met by many new friends and colleagues outside Cinemapolis, who all expressed heartfelt appreciation for the subject and cadence of the film! Long time Zarmy member David Sherman even commented, “I didn’t think about a cigarette a single time, and that is a BIG deal man! That hasn’t happened since Fight Club!” (which if you know David IS really saying something). Next we adjourned to the exhibit of Chet’s artwork, which was nicely displayed with the works of other amazing artists such as Paul Gerrard.
Chet and I enjoyed a variety of films, including the bizarre three hour odyssey that is Possession (1981) from IIFFF‘s retrospective category, and The Invitation from the feature film category, which I wouldn’t be surprised to see on Netflix sometime soon. The closing ceremony included a screening of Moonwalkers with Ron Pearlman, which was a brilliant and hilarious psychedelic journey crashing into a classic “clock is running out” drama – yet another I expect to see distributed! After the ceremony, and now on the last day, my luggage arrived and I was finally able to get cleaned up and comfortable.
Coming away from IIFFF I can say that it was not only a great opportunity to showcase the documentary and make inroads with publications like Fangoria, but also an opportunity to forge new friendships. The sense of comfort, ease and camaraderie with which people of all kinds and classes interacted at the event was inspiring and encouraging! It was such a great group of Dark Art enthusiasts, and I truly felt at home with them!
Now you might think, with my crazy travel experience on the way to Ithaca, that my trip home would be smooth…but such was not my fate. I will save that entire story for another time, but I am not exaggerating when I say that it took thirty six hours to get home, during which I drove through five blizzards on a ten hour rental car trip (yet another cancelled flight) from Colorado to New Mexico, and my luggage still did not arrive until two days later. Back home, reeling from the experience, but also recapitulating the wonders of my sideways journey to New York, I remind myself that as I drove to the airport on the first day of my trip I said to myself, as I always do, “If it’s in the greatest good of all things everywhere, allow me to have a Magickal experience”…and it definitely was!