15 October 2012

General Note (read: kvetch) About the Chicago Film Festival

I confess I've been getting a little frustrated with how disorganized the whole thing always is. Mostly though, I can't believe how poor the communication is. Each day before heading downtown, I've checked the Twitter feed, Facebook page, and News section of the website for news of cancelations and schedule changes and still, I had no idea that Reality had been canceled Friday night. (I was disappointed but I swapped my ticket for Black Pond, which I enjoyed, so it wasn't the worst thing in the world/)
Then on Saturday, I was stunned as at the very last minute we were told that they had been having technical difficulties with the digital film but "fortunately" they had a backup DVD. We were warned that there was a watermark on the film, the world's most prominent watermark in the world, it turned out. They didn't mention, however, that the sound was abysmal and the image quality was so poor that you could mostly not see people's faces or read subtitles. I couldn't believe they didn't just cancel the show. I wish I had left, since I basically payed full prince to see a movie in substantially worse quality than you'd find in a bad bootleg copy.
And then yesterday, on Sunday, the sound was all f*cked up on Paradise: Love. Nobody ever acknowledged it, but it seemed to be playing without one of the audio tracks or something. It was like when I got my fancy worldwide DVD player and I didn't have enough speakers for all the jacks so sometimes I wouldn't get certain parts of the audio track. Exactly like that. I kept asking myself if maybe that's how it's supposed to be, but since those scenes frequently had inaudible dialogue which was subtitled, I'm pretty sure all those scenes where all the ambient sound cut out and there seemed to be music missing from the film, that it was just a technical problem.
I've been to film festivals before and I know that things happen with shipping and so forth and things get canceled. I know that sometimes the cuts are a little rough and the subtitles can be even rougher, but I'm really hoping that I'm not going to spend the next week and half dealing with this kind of ineptitude since the $400+ I've spent on these tickets is not exactly small change for me.
It was smart of me to buy tickets in advance this year, but it can backfire. I'm glad I'm not standing in the ticket line all the time like I was in the past. One of the films that was sold out when I went to buy tickets last week, Something in the Air was suddenly available on Ticketmaster yesterday. It ended up costing me $20.90. The member price is $11, but you can only buy them either 24 hours in advance (on a weekday) over the phone or in person. Knowing it would surely be sold out by the time I got down there, I bought them from Ticketmaster in a moment of reckless abandon. It's insane how they rack up the fees there. $14 base price. Plus $4.50 in fees. Plus, oh yeah, another $2.50 in fees. Plus it would have been another two dollars for the privelege of printing my own tickets. How freaking outrageous is that? And why can Fandango do the exact same service for a dollar? It's really tacky in this day and age to use Ticketmaster, in my opinion. It's such an affront to your guests. Why not use something like Fandango or Brownpapertickets?
I won't go into the ineptitude of the lethargic AMC staff and the absurdly long and slow moving concession lines because it sort of goes without saying that AMC clearly undervalues and undertrains its consistently demoralized staff. It's really nothing new. But why in the hell is one of their down escalators still out of commission during the damned film festival. It often seems dangeous to exit the place because the escalators get so backed up with clueless suburbanites and so forth.

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