If you’re a loyal reader, you’ll notice that my format has changed for this post. I’ve decided that a freer-flowing post, devoid of too many categories, is a better format. To be honest, the categories were starting to feel a little bit contrived and I was faced with the reality that I couldn’t publish immediately after each film. This is my attempt to maintain a style that recognizes my personal, immediate experiences, but also allows time for my reflections to percolate until I actually get down to writing the piece. I remain guided by my original questions but feel more freedom to stay in the present, rather than pretend to be in a previous present, while writing.
My second film at the Galway Film Fleadh is a Brazilian film called Ferrugem (Rust). The film does a fascinating thing; it puts phones on the screen. Unlike many films, we see the phones that can often be noticeably absent from the experiences of modern characters. Rust shows us what can happen in a world that seems challenged to hold the tension of absolute access and complete privacy. We’re taken into a world where a teenage girl’s life is forever altered by a teenage boy’s decision to weaponize a lost phone.
Peaches, bananas, and six squares of Oreo chocolate got me here on time. I climb into the lobby of Palas, projecting the aftereffects of a leisurely walk. “That Oreo chocolate is actually pretty good,” I muse. It’s exactly six o’clock and the movie is supposed to start right now. Thankfully, it’s a few minutes behind, so I climb the steps to the theatre, willing a non-existent breeze to cool me off. After all of that, I’m the first one in the theatre. I smashed my 10km personal best so I’m a lot less pissed about crossing the threshold 6km from my Airbnb than I could be! I give silent thanks to the construction worker and pair of teenage girls who got me home and sit down in the back row.
For the last hour I’ve been preoccupied with getting to the church (theatre) on time, but I’ve had time to wonder if I can keep this pace up. Can I really write something after each film? Do I want to write something after each film? Truly, I’m not taking these questions too seriously. I’m just curious. As I sit down, I’m thinking about where to go for dinner, when I’m going to finish that job application, and the slightly offbeat conversation with the lady who wrote the screenwriting book that I happened to buy in Dublin yesterday. What are the chances that she’d be at the Galway Film Fleadh? Okay, probably pretty good, but still.
The girl in the still from the trailer brought me here. Her eyes, cast downwards, and her polka-dotted dress made me read the synopsis. Is this going to be a film about youth or a film told in youth voice? Will this film help me to understand why I was embarrassed by sex? What does it mean to be a Sundance selection? I’m almost glad that the Irish film was sold out!
The theatre starts to fill up; there’s the group of American-sounding-probably-Canadian-students tumbling in, the girl with the rose and gold coloured shiny-jacket, and the woman with the ankle cast. I’m so sweaty. I think I have sweat dripping from my temple. As we get settled the lights dim to a gentle crisscross and the festival hype reel starts. The reel ends, the lights go out, and someone whispers, “I trust you.” I think, “Wherever that trust is happening could be as interesting as the movie.”
It’s two days later and I’m sitting in the bar at Palas, drinking Whiplash IPA from Wicklow. The colour is amazing, mustard I’ve decided. It tastes like a beer to nurse along. My writing soundtrack echoed, “carry on my wayward son,” and transitioned to a guitar solo, of some classic rock tune, a few sentences ago. Suddenly there’s a clever tinkling of jazz piano; just keep writing.
I leave the theatre and overhear someone from deep within the gaggle of students exclaim, “Why didn’t he just, like, delete the message history? He totally could have gotten away with it.” One of the characters in the film shared a nude video of one of the other characters. Yeah, these are not the questions going through my mind. Whatever though, logistical questions are legitimate questions.
There’s not a lot of activity in my brain, so I walk out of the theatre, and through the Latin Quarter to the same restaurant where I ate two weeks ago. I sit on my own, sip slightly earthy tasting water out of a short tumbler and connect to the internet. The first Google search is to check-in on the situation in Derry. I was there, where the car burned, where the shots were fired. I’d say that things are paused, not solved. Watch out for Brexit.
After dinner I wander to the opposite side of the restaurant and spy the TV on the wall. It’s England vs. Croatia and the score is tied. One of the waiters is from Croatia, I can tell. I wish I understood enough about the Yugoslav Wars to understand what that context might mean for a Croatian victory. I watch the rest of the game, the film rather far from my mind.
Croatia wins, it’s time to walk home. I have to write the posts that are starting to stack up. I’m a little tired, I’ve covered a lot of territory today, and my mind is a bit blank.
Before I sleep I tap a few words out on my keyboard. There’s a discipline to this, I think. I’m thinking about my cousins who are or were in high school recently. Have they seen a nude video circulated at their school? What were the consequences? Was the film too heavy-handed, too simplistic? I’m thinking about all of my high school crushes. That first kiss, on the hill at Oak Park was pretty special. I’m wondering how parents feel when their kids let them down, like really let them down. What do you do when you realize that your child is human? How do you handle it?
I take another sip of my beer and pull out my journal, “I think I wrote something in here about Rust.” There it is, about 7/8 of the way down the page, “Watch Rust from the back row (suicide moment, paused video, kiss by the fountain, boy telling her mom the truth, looking out at the ship with his mom).” Those moments are still with me and there’s something new too. There’s the mother and father, driving through the pouring rain, wiping the windshield with Kleenex, searching for their son. They’re talking about being human, about needing something more, about finding different, not better.
It’s okay to want that sometimes, right?