March madness of a different sort begins for me today, although I intend to practice better judgment than last year to make what I’m doing seem a little less crazy. I’m talking about the Cleveland International Film Festival and my third time attending. Two years ago I took in ten films in two days. Last year I gorged, seeing something during every session in my six days at the fest.
What drives such obsessive film viewing is a love of movies, obviously. Combining that with a press pass that grants unlimited access to screenings and the belief that this might be the only opportunity to see some of these films can be dangerous. Sure, it can be fun shuffling from theater to theater from 9:30 in the morning until the midnight session ends, but sometimes the pace can be downright brutal. Add in trying to find time to write, eat, and sleep (in that order), and you can imagine that there’s a line where fun becomes exhaustion.
I’ve promised myself that I won’t push to my physical and mental limits during my two stints at the 2007 festival. (I’m here for the weekend and returning again on Thursday.) Unless there’s something I absolutely must see, I’m skipping the 9:30 a.m. and midnight sessions. That still gives me the potential of seeing five films per day, which isn’t exactly a light schedule. I’ve already been to seven press/promo screenings this week, so it’s not like I’m in movie withdrawal.
If nothing in a session sounds particularly appealing, I’ll take it off. I’ve seen my share of good films here in the past, but I’ve also caught some real lousy ones too. (Try having a day in which you see six films and like none or one of them.) Chances are that if something doesn’t sound appealing from the festival program description and whatever other information I’ve dug up, it’s not worth the trouble. Maybe I’ll miss some masterwork, but I kind of doubt it.