Birthmarked

BEFORE

A ponytail, beard, and Aussie hat greet me in the morning frenzy at Pálás. He knows that I already have tickets.

He appears to be tilting his head away from the top-secret earpiece in his right ear as he says, “I saw you yesterday.”

I’m pleased, maybe one day I’ll be a volunteer with a secret Film Fleadh earpiece? I wonder, “Can you really tilt your head away from an earpiece? I mean, it’s in your ear.”

I feel better. The call, last night, with Cass and Scott helped; so did making dinner; also sleeping—sleeping always helps.

I ate a good breakfast this morning—two hard-boiled eggs, raisin bread, and tea—while looking at the wall in Tess’ garden, painted by her grandkids. Oh, and the shower, that was glorious. Hot water is a beautiful thing.

I walked the whole way, no running to make up for lateness.

I listened to the recording of Kids, from Orkney. The acoustics in the church hall are amazing. I wish I’d gone for it a bit more in the last chorus, but still, I should share it.

I have no idea what I’m going to do with the nature sounds from the pier in Flotta or the library in Aberdeen.

Then there’s that recording from the walk home after The Last Ship. That’s where the Before and After idea started. It’s not the finest piece of radio, but at least I tried.

I picked up that receipt lying on the ground, on the bridge over the railway tracks. I’m really going the extra mile today.

I acknowledge the Blue Jays guy from yesterday. He’s back in line for another go at rush seats. I pass the line and head up to the theatre. Someone says, with exasperation, “I was at the airport 4 hours before my flight!” I’ll be at the airport tomorrow, with the British Open on the horizon.

The volunteer at the door says, “You can sit anywhere.” I sit behind Steven Doolan. I can see the label on the folder he’s holding. I wonder what Steve is thinking about? My attention drifts to the Comerford Clan sponsored seat in the row ahead. I played golf with a guy named Comerford and that bar in Mooncoin, with the traditional music and free cocktail sausages, was owned by a Comerford. Why do I always want to add an extra ‘f’ to Comerford?

I take out my phone and embrace the irony. I read an article from The Guardian, “phones cause cancer.”

“I looked like a deer in the headlights and he was yelling at me.” It’s probably someone talking about driving on the wrong side of the road again.

Someone else says, “No its not.” They weren’t responding to my silent thought, but it reminds me not to assume. You know what happens when you assume, don’t you?

The blonde girl that just sat down and immediately got up is cutting this bathroom break close.

I’m ready for a story this morning. I’m here because of Matthew Goode. I figured out that it’s Matthew Goode, rather than Matthew Good, you know, the Canadian singer. It’s a partially Canadian film though, so it could have been!

Lights down; I can see that red security light blinking. Relax, it’ll blend in soon enough.

AFTER

Birthmarked is quirky, zany, vaguely absurd, kind of like Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel, but in Quebec. That was a palate cleanser. Fun, not transformative, but definitely fun.

I’ve always wanted to take an axe to a helicopter. Okay, maybe not, but it did make a satisfying crunch. I didn’t know that helicopters could fly after being chopped with an axe. That’s what you do with an axe, chop things. I chopped wood once, near Metcalfe, near Ottawa, on a fall day, after the log-splitter stopped working. I didn’t even cut off my foot.

I probably won’t get a chance to experiment with chopping helicopters.

I’m in the back of the bar again, by the mirror, with my notebook.

A Film Fleadh staffer comes up to me, “Sorry to randomly come up to you, but we’re recording for Fleadh TV, would you give us a quick reaction to the Fleadh? It’ll be a humans of the Fleadh type video.”

Sure, why not? My face feels a little flushed, but, who cares. What did Linda Kash say about improv? Always accept the invitation.=

We record in the hallway, outside the elevator. It feels a bit like a closet. The camera person is on a chair.

I give myself a pep talk, “Stay natural, be in the moment, channel what Ed Solomon said, pitch what you’re excited about.”

This is going well, I like that answer, finish it off. A perfect take, in my opinion. Ah, perfect except that they need some context for the video, can we do a second take? Okay, new moment, say it differently if you have to, here we go. Not quite as good, but it’ll do.

“You look good on camera!” My daily dose of confidence has been administered.

Back to my notebook, only forty minutes until Reports from Sarah and Saleem.

The videographer moves on to her next subject, the woman at the round table to my right. The pitch isn’t working, she’s feeling a bit bashful. I lean over and add my encouragement, “You’ll be great, all you have to do is say what you just said on camera.”

I’m not really that convincing. She declines, but pleasantly! We keep talking.

We talk about the films that we’ve seen. We’ve been at a few of the same ones. She tells me that there’s been a big change in the atmosphere at The Fleadh this year. Did I know that Pálás just opened this year? I did not.

It has been a big change moving some of the films from the Town Hall Theatre to Pálás. The energy is different, not necessarily worse, but different.

Today is the busiest that she’s ever seen Pálás. She comes often, during the rest of the year, for the film society.

It turns out that we’re both headed to see Reports from Sarah and Saleem.

“Nina, is my name by the way.”

We shake hands and head out the door of the bar.

Film festival camaraderie is the best.

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