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.  

    As an adult, I have made a pact with myself to only approach celebrities when I have something interesting to say and/or want to connect with them as a person, rather second handedly attempting to feel special by being temporarily within their media orbit.  The more famous people you are around, the less fame feels like a magnet and the more it just feels like an aspect of a person, like their shoe size or that they really like nachos with swiss cheese.

    I will admit that there have been a few moments of weakness.  The catalyst for these moments is to be unexpectedly close to someone you never expected to see in real life, and in a semi-awkward setting.  My tactic for solving awkward situations often involves me talking way too much.  In the case with celebrities I have nothing interesting to say to, it involves me talking in general.   I will share two of these occurrences with you all now because this is part of what this Tumblr is all about.

Social Failure with Celebrity: Scenario 1. 

Setting: Carnegie Hall.

Reason for being there: A Rufus Wainwright concert. (and ordering champagne not knowing the show was about to start and being forced to chug it outside the theater).

I direly needed to use the restroom during intermission.  I go to the restroom and it turns out someone that either looks remarkably like Natalie Portman, or IS Natalie Portman is also in the restroom.   I didn’t think it was Natalie 1) I was surprised at her Carnegie Hall casual attire, skinny jeans, chucks, hair in braids, but at the same time she’s Natalie Portman so her causal is still stunning 2) I previously had no idea how petite she is 3) This was in the bathroom. 

Course of action: I apologize for asking her the question, but asked if she was Natalie Portman.  Then I said something along the lines of  ‘you are the prettiest’ in a way that probably was most likely more endearing and witty in my mind.   I think I washed my hands really thoroughly during this encounter.  It wasn’t one of my finer moments, but at least I got the reference to her right away on Rufus’s latest album and my hands were really really clean.

Social Failure with Celebrity: Scenario 2.

Setting: Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center

Reason for being there: Screening of Martha Marcy May Marlene at the New York Film Festival.

Last year my roommate and I split a pass for the New York Film Festival. We had gotten into a habit of going to the Empire Hotel Lobby bar beforehand and getting their delicious Gossip Girl themed cocktails that manage to be glamorous and gimmicky simultaneously.  That particular night I had gotten tipsy on the Nate Archibald/Chace Crawford cocktail, “Nate’s Fickle Flings”.  The awkward encounter I am about to tell could have been a two-parter because it turns out Chace Crawford was at the screening. Luckily for everyone involved, we didn’t cross paths.

 (Empire Cocktail Menu: courtesy Calhoun Tribune

   As a result of enjoying our Empire cocktails a bit too much we were later to our screening than usual.  They had closed the entrance near our seats for some VIP reason. My roommate went to her seat while I made a quick restroom break. (reoccurring pattern).  When I go to find my seat, I see it’s literally at the opposite side of theater. In front of me sits an entire row of patrons of various degrees of prestige and attitude..  I am flushed with embarrassment because I HATE being that squeezing by person in any scenario, let alone this one.   In one of the moments of awkward squeezing I look at the row behind me that I closely face as I am slowly maneuver.  I am confronted by a pair of big eyed , blonde, chicly disshelved looking creatures. The Olsen twins.

Much like unicorns, I grew up with them as a child but never expected to encounter them in reality.  It was like the pop culture of youth flashed before my eyes. Having stared at them too long not to communicate, I squeaked out a “Hi” while smooshed between two patrons.  Their expressions were somewhere along the lines of mildly amused to mildly annoyed, mostly likely their permanent state of being.  I tried to grasp what I just encountered.  

Olsen Encounter 

    Both these celebrity scenarios remind me of a calendar I had as a child.  It was a unicorn calendar and each month contained photos of what appeared to be unicorns.  It betwixted me.  I was young enough to still want to believe in unicorns, but old enough to know if they DID exist, they would NOT be photographed for this mass-produced bookstore bought calendar.  Still, I would look at these photos stunned at what I was seeing.  Only later did I realize the truth; they very pretty and maybe very talented horses with horns attached to their heads, posing for photographs that would be mass distributed to let children’s imaginations run wild. 

Still, it would confuse me to see one of these horses the bathroom.