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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Eiga Sai’s Discomfort Man

Ehem, that’s me.

Last weekend, I had the chance (a really small one) to catch some films (two to be exact) on this year’s Eiga Sai. I’ve been a follower of the festival eversince it was still held in a basement at Equitable Building along Makati Avenue. The venue maybe a little remote, and piracy hasn’t shaken the art film awareness in us yet, but ticket distribution was so smooth sailing then. Once the theater is open for screening, cineastes just line up and get in, as simple as that. Fast forward to this year’s venue, which has been hosting the festival for a couple of years now, the Shangri-La Cineplex, the whole viewing experience now turns into a harakiri.

Let me count the ways to perdition:

1. Tickets are distributed one hour before the screening. For this year’s festival, there are only three screenings a day. There’s one at 2pm then at 4:30pm and lastly at 7pm. So if you’re catching the 2pm film, expect the ticket to be released at 1pm sharp. The problem lies in the queue. Film buffs, students and freeloaders form a line as early as two hours before the distribution. Some just gossip it out with friends or eat or read a book. This is serviceable to young ones (and the likes of me) but our dear senior citizens will definitely skip the three hours of plain bumming. How about those with disability?

2. Film marathon is absolutely mission impossible. Out of three films a day, you just have to choose which one to watch. Two films could be doable but that means you have to queue for two hours twice. Thanks but no thanks. Sometimes just by looking at the long queue, you can secondguess that not everybody can fit in the cinema. And yet, the cinema staff just let the line freeze that way for hours. I don’t know about them but in two hours, I can have my lunch, do some grocery or even attend a mass. To top it all, if the queue reaches the Starbucks area, chances are very, very slim.

3. Before, those who are attempting to do a marathon just leave the cinema while a film is being screened and queue for the next one. The most harrowing part, of course, is seeing the images of those shadows making an exit even if the film’s not over yet. This is somewhat addressed by the one-hour rule on ticket distribution.

4. I was surprised to discover that chance watchers are only allowed admission 15 minutes after the film has already started. On this regard, I approached the cineplex manager, Mr. Reynaldo Cabigting, and asked if this is really the rule. He affirmed the policy, which he said was implemented by the Japan Foundation, and justified that the chance watchers “deserve” it because they don’t have tickets. Please note that some films have highlights on the first 15 minutes. Where’s the respect to its filmmakers?

Looking at the bright side, here’s hoping that the organizers of the festival and the cinema management can address these issues, which are normally overshadowed by the fact that the screenings are for free. But regardless, the Discomfort Man will just suck it and watch the films still. On the dark side, another good idea is to look for a queue boy/girl who is willing to kill time for almost the whole day. Discomfort Man is willing to pay for P200 to P300 a day. Sarcasm aside, there’s always UP Film Institute.

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