The 50th New York Film Festival ended last weekend. While it’s certainly not one of the largest film festivals, it is the only one I have been to and this year was my second time attending.
Last year I had just moved to New York; barely moved into a new apartment in a new city, my roommate and I found an affordable way to go to the festival. (Thank you strategies I learned from old box office jobs, and my premature passion for saving money through memberships). It was my first few days living in NY, and I chose to spend it sitting in an assigned seat at Lincoln Center, next to varying degrees of celebrity and microcosms of New York culture, and watching mostly vaguely apocalyptic films on an exuberantly large screen.
I learned a lot about New York in that first week. I learned that New Yorkers really do judge you based on how you dress. I would dig through the boxes of clothes on my floor realizing I should have planned the packing of my boxes better by not having the comfy raggedy not all on the top.
I got shoo-ed away from a bar my roommate and I wanted to attend because “Gossip Girl” was filming there.
I learned that movie stars aren’t all that different from the other types of celebrity I have known. If you’re confident and have something interesting to say, they will talk to you.
I learned how much hype really does matter for films. It turns out, if you have an extra ticket to the U.S. premiere of a black and white modern silent film about Old Hollywood by a French director that would go on to win best picture at The Oscars, if they don’t know the Oscars part, you may have an exceedingly hard time trying to GIVE your ticket away…. but for 10 minutes you may make a friend with an actor from one of the festivals other films.
(AFTER awkwardly taking a crappy photo from behind the professional photographers on the red carpet)
In New York, for a small fee you take a staircase underground that leads to you what would be dark if it wasn’t for the manmade creation of transportation awaiting you there. Above, outside is Bushwick; packed with 99-cent stores, fast food, roasting chickens, ukuleles, and your sporadically budding hipster establishments. Below you are in a tunnel before stepping into your train. It’s bumpy, bright, and loud inside, with waves of darkness and silence outside. You transfer under a tunnel knowing a bustling avenue is about you but fellow commuters and buskers surrounding you. No cars, no buildings, no light.. You get on another train with new faces and new destinations. You exit out in front of Lincoln Center for the New York Film Festival. There are columns, water fountains, Chagall, slick dressers, black cars, champagne, celebrities, and another way to pay to be transported in the dark to another world.
Living in New York is kind of like living in a movie, except it smells a whole lot more like pee…. and at the Film Festival, you usually get to ask questions afterwards.