Saturday, November 20, 2010

Torello Mountain Film Festival

Torello is the size of place where people look at you as you walk past in the street because they don't recognise you, and seems like a town that has seen better days. So my first feeling about the film festival was that it had been put together as one of those "hey, this place is run down, let's bung in some cultural event or other to try to perk it up." In fact, the festival has been running for 28 years, having been started by Joan Salarich and a small group of enthusiasts, and now, although it may not have the five venues and eight strands of Kendal, or the 1,000 seater cinema of Banff, can still pack out a cinema of 500 night after night. They also provide a very warm welcome and fabulous hospitality to their guests.

My first experience of the hospitality was on Thursday, when I met Rosa and Carmen; Carmen would be my interviewer and translator, I was told over dinner. Interviewer? I thought I was here to hop up on stage and say "thanks for coming to see the film, hope you like it", and hop off again. Oh no. After a chat about the film, I was taken into the cinema, and shown to my seat - not right by the stage, but half way back, so that when Carmen announced my name and the lights went up, I had to walk down the steps through the audience to loud applause, whoops and whistles (seriously - whoops and whistles - never had that before!). Then, on stage in front of about 550 people (not only was every seat taken, so were most of the steps and aisles with people perching or standing where they could), do an interview about the film, how we made it, what were the challenges, what is a line of flight, was it a pessimistic film, what is the relationship between the landscape and industry? And all of this was delivered in a running mix of English and Catalan by Carmen. Then back to my seat to watch the film which now had a Catalan voiceover, which made watching it a new experience.

Once the film was over, I was off duty, so since then I've watched a few more films, had a day out in Vic, watched more films, been to a reception, and will shortly be taken out for lunch in the mountains with all the other festival guests. Then tonight, it's the awards, closing ceremony, and another reception! See what I mean about great hospitality?


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