Twelve films in and were I to make a zine of MIFF etiquette tips, I would include the following.
If, upon entering the cinema, you find it full, save for a row of seats in what could only be described as a ‘premium spot’, it is a premium spot. You have not stumbled upon what all others before you have failed to find; these seats are reserved. Let the old adage ‘if it looks too good to be true it probably is’ (or some such) serve as your guide here. If still in doubt, listen to the volunteer at the foot of said dream row of seats who has a Dictaphone-like device hidden upon their person. ‘Sorry guys, these seats are for Premium Members, but you can sit anywhere else’. Rewind. Repeat. ‘Sorry guys, these seats are for Premium Members, but you can sit anywhere else’. Note the small, red, arguably somewhat camouflaged seat bib that labels it so and move on swiftly thereby enabling the MIFF appointed Seat Defender time to rewind and repeat their message for the next hopefuls following on your heel.
Before the session, seated in the theatre:
In order to avoid the disgruntled huffing and stave off the anger-in-anticipation of those seated around you, keep your device on a dim setting, and employ the hand-over-screen shield and device-face-down-on-your-own-leg courtesy positions to indicate to those around you that you are not a 'bad' device user. Such thoughtfulness before a session has begun informs those around you that you will not be one of those people who, during a film's climax, check their device to note the time.
A small note to those who do check the time during a film: observe the running time before the film commences. It is safe to assume that the film will not run for eternity. Film may alter our perception of time, but it cannot yet alter time itself. Accept the conjuring trick for what it is, safe in the knowledge that it will only run for, say, 89 minutes.
Snacking in the theatre:
Sustenance during a festival is vital. It keeps us going. This we all know. Ideal patrons (from seasoned veterans to newcomers) are to this end easy to spot in their natural habitat. They are the ones eating a sandwich/apple/handful of nuts/chocolate bar and typically sipping from a thermos or with takeaway coffee cup before the session starts. The word to note here, 'before'. Timing, as in film, as in life, is everything. And in observing the flawless punter, that exemplary beacon, note the absence of both noise and lack-of pungency of the food and beverage they are consuming. (Feel at liberty to contest this point with me, should it rankle, in the comments field below or by email.) Good nutrition aside, of this I am sure: few wish to sit beside someone eating a baked ricotta and spinach wrap (garnished with fried onion and garlic paste, to hammer home my point), which is consumed during a film. Few also wish to hear the crunch-crunch-crunch of crisps. Look for a snack with minimal aroma and minimal noise capability, if you wish to play nice.
It is also important to consider the manner in which you wrap your snack if you plan on nibbling throughout the film. Observe the following known facts: a plastic bag will rustle; a paper bag will make a crinkle-crunkle noise; a can of fizzy drink will make a snap-peel-hiss noise. Your plans to 'suck' your crisps are commendable, but we are none of us super heroes; a packet of chips is designed to cRRR-unch.
Advice for the weary:
It is best to slump backward in one’s seat when the eyelids become too heavy as opposed to slouching forward awkwardly. Make use of the headrest, if available, and this will ensure a longer, less audible nap. A small percentage of neighbours may prove obliging and allow you to rest your head upon their shoulder, but they are as rare as the proverbial hens’ teeth. Take heart, for the main, snoring patrons do have a certain endearing quality, and can be known to lend a curious experimental soundtrack to a film.
Right, as you were. Enjoy!
(Posting to instagram after each film, and here, High Up, when I can.)
+ Talking at the Movies is Ace
Film 11: FANTASIA (D. Wang Chao)
From the human body to industrial metropolis, slowly all things disintegrate before our eyes.
Film 12: THE VANQUISHING OF THE WITCH BABA YAGA (D. Jessica Oreck)
Earth watches, time escapes, eternity waits, the mouse goes 'peep-peep-peep', and a hut perches on chicken legs. How I wanted to love this, but sadly did not.