We Blew It

BEFORE

“His face, like, blew up!”

That’s what I hear at the intersection of the restaurant and the staircase that leads to the bathroom. I pause for a minute, to consider how it would feel to have a face that “like, blew up.” I’m caught in my contemplation, “You alright?” says a vaguely concerned looking volunteer.

“Yup, just on the way to the bathroom.”

I make my way down the last few stairs, walk into the mood-lit bathroom and check my face to see if it looks as dry as it feels. It doesn’t even look too red, in this moment. I silently judge, then forgive myself for this vanity trip.

In ten minutes, I’ll be sitting in the dark, with strangers, obviously my face needs to be flake free. On the other hand, I didn’t fight the insecurity, that’s a win—admit it, take what you need for comfort, and move on—that’s courage, right?

I climb the basement stairs, cross the front of the restaurant, pass the concession stand, and scale the final two staircases towards the theatre. I pause at the bar, noticing the keystone projection of the World Cup on the back wall. I’m glad that I haven’t missed a classic, it’s 4-2 France. Today it’s films over football and I feel good about the choice.

I find a seat in the back row, the perfect distance from this particular screen. I’ve stopped noticing the architecture of the theatre, although, I notice that I’ve stopped noticing so maybe I’m still noticing? It’s all very confusing in here, in my mind that is.

I lean down to pick up my notebook and my gaze drifts down the line of feet. I spy red shoes in the centre of the back row, pink toenails and crisscross sandals a little further along, I wonder who they’re attached to, but I don’t want to linger. I sit up straight, lay my notebook across one knee and catch a glimpse, of a refreshing looking red drink, in a glass, with ice. It could be in a commercial, it’s so pretty; I’m still talking about the drink.

I take a few notes, about how I’m feeling, and what I’m thinking. I’m here, at We Blew It, because of a gnawing feeling that the key to somewhere, important now, is hidden in the 60s and 70s.

I remember the shiver that ran across my shoulder blades when I discovered the Company of Young Canadians, in Ian Hamilton’s book The Children’s Crusade. I’d never felt so connected, across decades, to something that I’d never heard about. There was comfort in seeing people standing on similar ground, agitating for a different way of governance, development, organizing. Where did the energy, the relentless re-framing of existence and society go? Are the radicals of the 60s and 70s in hiding, did they give up, have they met next generation?

What could happen if we built a bridge between then and now?

I hope We Blew It gives me some answers.

The door to the theatre opens, slightly, a white shirt peaks out of the hallway. Will it join us? The lights go down, the shirt blazes in the last of the light. The door closes, the shirt disappears, the film starts.

AFTER

I’m totally sitting in judgement. I make eye-contact with the guy beside me. He asks, “What did you make of that?”

I can’t help it, “That was bizarre. It felt indulgent. Yeah, bizarre.”

“Yeah, I’m not really sure what that was, it felt unfinished,” he says.

I’d been thinking about point-of-view, editing for consistency, picking your storylines, and focus, definitely focus. I either didn’t like the choices and resisted seeing them, or the film was massively confused. There were a lot of white men, which could have been interesting, I mean they were definitely around in the 60s and 70s, but, in this case, they just, well, didn’t have much to say.

Was it supposed to be a different movie? Did it emerge from leftover footage? I’m not sure.

On some level, it’s a useful time capsule of what people in a certain demographic think. That’s important I guess, but I’m surprised that it’s important enough to get picked up on the festival circuit.

I don’t want to be judgmental, but it’s a judgement to say that a film feels judgey and lecturey. It’s a loop.

To re-centre I ask, in my head, “how did it make me feel?”

The answer: frustrated, annoyed, irritated.

If I had to guess, which I have to do for the sake of my own processing, I’d say that I feel this way because I wonder if the film is another attempt at having the final word, by a group that always has the final word. It’s hard to be protagonist and analyst at the same time, that’s always going to come out a bit garbled, so maybe I wanted to see self-awareness of the garble?

Can you really be the definitive voice on your own legacy?

I’m pretty deeply in my head. I’ve managed to walk through the Latin Quarter, to the entrance of McDonalds, just beyond the carnival chin-up-bar. The bar is about to slip from the latest bro-grasp, far before the 100 second mark. The McDonalds meets me in the depths of processing, comfort food to meet me in the spiral. I want a toffee sundae, but they don’t make one. I fight the spiral and resist a less-than-ideal choice.

I leave without ordering and walk.

I start to listen to a therapist’s podcast, obviously, because it’s me.

On my last walk home from Galway City Centre, I pass the setup for the Arts Festival and a couple walking across a train bridge.

And just like that, that’s it, that’s all for my time at the Galway Film Fleadh.

Tomorrow I fly. I fly back to Scotland for a week, off to indulge in the British Open, the last milestone before my flight home.

Golf, I miss it.

I still feel a bit guilty about how much I’m spending to watch it.

It’s okay to cheer for Tiger, I think.

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