International air travel sucks butt (how many “lap babies” can they pack on one 16-hour long-haul?) but the festivals themselves sure are nice once you get there. Durban was warm and had lively audiences. I saw some good films and was put up in a very nice hotel, which I seldom left due to warnings about rampant street crime. DIFF also gave me an unusually beautiful festival bag, made of intricately printed African fabric.
3 flights and about 20 hours later I arrived in beautiful Melbourne without my checked suitcase, which vanished somewhere between Johannesburg and Perth. The Melbourne International Film Festival then sponsored a whirlwind shopping spree at Target 45 minutes before closing, where I scored some underwear, pants and a bra, and learned Australian clothing sizes don’t correspond to American. The lovely and talented actress Arta Dobroshi got word of my plight and lent me some of her movie star duds, including a hot strapless number I don’t want to return. The city of Melbourne is handsome indeed, reminiscent of San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, but you do need to wear clothes there – it’s cold, and it’s the law. The MIFF audiences were TEH AWESOMEST!!1! – “Sita” played simultaneously in two full houses, and the post-screening discussion was a lot of fun.
Then I flew to Brisbane, where I am now. I like Australia. Gone are the adventurous exotica-seeking days of my youth – give me that familiar Western decadence. Australia is like the US, but less populated and prettier and seemingly more functional, unless you’re an Aboriginal, in which case neither country is particularly lovable. But I am a product of the Decadent West, and after 2 days on godawful airliners I really appreciate returning to a familiar culture. Except it’s on the other side of the World. Uncanny, that. Tonight a BIFF volunteer named all 5 boroughs of New York, proving we are truly one people.
Tomorrow “Sita” screens to a bunch of school kids. I am looking forward to it. Now that the film has proven itself as a cartoon for adults, kids’ screenings just broaden the audience, instead of pigeonholing it as I’d first feared.
Next Week: Jecheon, Korea!