Wednesday, January 26, 2011

SLAMDANCE !! What a trip..... Really !!

Hit the web and get the 411 on Slamdance.  Spawned in 1995, this renegade festival has been going strong ever since.  I remember my first Slamdance experience in 1995.  Spike Lee's brother, Christopher, had a film in the renegade festival (the film was awful!!) and the one screening room had no chairs....  only bean bags and floor space.  ugh!!  I haven't seen a Slamdance screening since then and thought they must have improved a lot by now.  So, I scored 6 tickets to the one and only screening of PETE SMALLS IS DEAD starring Peter Dinklage, Steve Buscemi, Rosie Perez, Tim Roth and Seymour Cassel and directed by Alexandre Rockwell, a protege of John Cassavetes.   Picture me and 5 SMC students heading into a room with the other ticket holders and discovering that - YES! - there ARE chairs, AND they're on risers.  Sweet!   However, there are only 75 chairs and nearly 100 of us.  As the last few chairs available became scarce, a musical chairs, keystone cops energy took over and people were flinging their bodies at empty chairs, elbowing and 
T-Boning total strangers in their scramble for a seat.  Needless to say, some of us ended on the floor and I took a seat on the edge of a riser.  Then, I notice a little boy who looks maybe 10 years old holding a microphone and standing in front of the movie screen. Next to him is a keyboard and an accompanist.  Hmmmm??  Cut to:  30 minutes later and 3 incredibly looooong and strange musical numbers performed in Barry Manilow-in-Vegas style (which is really weird when a little kid does it!).  At first the spirit of the audience was very generous and supportive.  C'mon, a cute little kid (turns out he was 12) singing songs he had composed himself about love, longing, heartbreak, the vicissitudes of relationships, and one number that I found quite alarming as the refrain was; "They're coming.  They're coming.  Watch out.  They're coming."  Needless to say, a rift quickly formed between audience members who couldn't refrain from cheering the kid on, and those who responded to: "Do you want to hear another one?" with growls and grumbles that would frighten a wolf.  Truly bizarre.  By the 3rd number, I reeled back and forth between rounds of giddy laughter to existential moments introspection.  Audience members, total strangers, shot pleading glances across the room at one another as a collective WHY? hung in the air.  Pete Smalls was Dead (though not really), and we were oh so alive to the mystery!!

Jay Surface and Sami Al-Asfour before the TEST on nerves unfolded....

Adrienne Kwok-Lundy and Cynthia Osborne on their little slice of floor heaven.

Grace Bosque wondering....when will this kid STOP!!

Cynthia and Adrienne posing during the Q&A with the director and star: Peter Dinklage (in BG).

Actor Peter Dinklage with Jay Surface and Grace Bosque.

On far left, famed director Alexandre Rockwell, his friend?, Jay, Grace and Sami.

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