There are some famous film festivals: Sundance, Telluride, Tribeca and Venice. Festivals that celebrate new films and get everyone excited about movie making. I recently went to a film festival and it was NOT like any of the famous ones you have heard about.

In the Netherlands, for the fifth year in a row, there is one day a year where they show five films that have not yet opened in this country. On one Sunday, you can see five films in a row, from 10:30 in the morning until 11:15 at night. There are only a few selected cities that do this, so it is very exciting and it generates quite the buzz. You need to buy your tickets ahead of time, as it sells out every year. The ticket guarantees you a reserved seat, so you are in the same seat the entire day. They give short breaks and two meal breaks.

The films were:  THE HELP, THE IDES OF MARCH, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, LA PIEL QUE HABITO (Spanish film) and DRIVE. Truthfully, the minute I heard that THE HELP was one of the films, I was ready to buy my ticket. I have been waiting and waiting to see this film, but it is not scheduled to come here until January. You read that correctly, January! Most American films arrive here within a month or even sooner after its U.S. release, but the late date of THE HELP is a huge mystery to me. I have heard from many friends who have seen the movie and want to talk about it with me, and my frustration was growing. So you can imagine my excitement about seeing this movie in October.

We had to go to Rotterdam and that is only a 30 minute drive. A really nice theatre that seats 500 people and it was naturally sold out. We were curious about the kind of people who would attend this event, movie HOS just like us? The average age was about 40 and above, but there were plenty of young people too. More women than men, but still quite a few men. We overheard many women say that they were there for THE HELP. That thrilled me to hear this as I wondered if the delay in its opening was because they did not think the Dutch would be interested in the movie’s story. By the way, THE HELP, the book, is translated into Dutch and is a bestseller.

If there was a theme to the films I would say they showed the dark side of humanity. They did not show humans at their best or even their funniest. It was strange to watch THE IDES OF MARCH  with a Dutch audience…to have this entire film take place during the Ohio presidential primary, was just a little weird. But the Dutch are so aware of America, in every single aspect, that they seemed to “get it”. But it did not get any weirder than watching an Spanish film with Dutch subtitles. I thought this would give me a chance to take a nap, but my curiosity got the best of me. I really tried to follow the story line of a plastic surgeon with a little too much power in his scalpel, but it was a challenge. But because it was a Pedro Almodovar film, it was very visual and that meant I saw way too many naked hairy butts. On the other hand, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, is heart wrenching and very tough. Tilda Swinton should be nominated for an Oscar for this very raw performance, but I am not sure the Academy will pay attention to this film. This film created the most discussion for us. DRIVE was very well done, but so beyond violent that I thought that Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch had a baby and named it DRIVE. All I can say is that night, I dreamed of blood. Lots of blood.

So what about THE HELP?  This was the first movie of the festival and we watched the first 20 minutes and the film abruptly stopped. The lights came up and we were told that there was a technical problem. We waited and waited. It was then announced that while they worked on the problem that they would show THE IDES OF MARCH. All of the films were digital except THE HELP. It was on reels and one of the two machines had broken down. Why was it not digital? I am guessing that because this film is not scheduled until January, this copy was sent before it was made digital with Dutch subtitles. Throughout the day we kept getting updates on THE HELP and every time we were a little hopeful, we would be told that there was a good chance it would not be shown at all.

Many women said that they only came for THE HELP. Some came by train from other cities and were pretty distressed. As for myself, and my level of maturity, when we heard that it was NOT going to be shown….my eyes immediately filled up with tears and I sat in stunned silence. I could not believe this was happening to me and the other 499 people.

So what did we get for this horrible development? A free bag of popcorn and a ticket for one free movie in the future. The staff were very apologetic and patient with us. Many people were talking about how much they wanted to see THE HELP and I wanted to say “but I am an American, it hurts me more than you!” But I stopped myself from making a scene. Making a scene was not going to gain me anything other than a visit from security.

For those who know me, you know how much I love films. And for those who know me from this blog, hello! Look at these titles and you know I love the movies. I know that I will see THE HELP someday soon, and I have many more films to see in my future. But for this American living in a another country, it is more important to me NOW to see the movies I want to see. Seeing these movies tells me that my life has not changed so much, that I can still watch my favorite TV shows (which I can) and films and read the books I want to read. That is why I had a slight little melt down in the theatre. I am here, and loving it. But I still want the shallow pleasures of life, like a good movie.

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  • Jane Moore Houghton  On October 18, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss dear friend. It is a great film – and you will see it someday when you are supposed to see it (or insert some other Hallmark card type response). I have an idea! Fly home for a visit and I will take you tomorrow! XO

  • Loree Griffin Burns  On October 19, 2011 at 3:01 am

    Yes! Fly home tomorrow and Jane will take you to see THE HELP and I will tag along and catch up with both of you!

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