Something you should know about me: Prior to this year, I had probably seen less than a dozen full movies in my “adult” lifetime. Of those movies, they generally fell into one of three categories: Nicholas Sparks/Romance, Food Films, or Animation (Finding Nemo still gets me every time). Start a sentence with “Have you seen –” And I’d just stop you there, because the answer would 99% of the time be “No.”
I guess I thought sitting for 2 hours was a waste of time when I had papers and exams and meetings and training. And going to the theater? Good luck getting me to pay $16 for a movie ticket.
But now, oh boy, I can confidently say I have seen more movies in the past 4 months than I have in my entire life. Movies on planes, movies on trains, movies in theaters, movies with friends, movies without friends, movies in Ireland, movies in Morocco, movies, movies, movies.
This week was the pinnacle of my film-watching career as this beautiful city hosted the 17thannual International Film Festival of Marrakech. Get this – tickets were free. Yes, free. I don’t know if all film festivals are free but when Souad, a friend at Amal, told me about it, I was in.
In seven days, I saw seven films. Films that I wouldn’t normally choose to see on my own. With each film, I experienced something new, not just from the films themselves but also from the experience of seeing the films intheaters inMarrakech inthis grand festival.
Here are a few daily highlights:
Day 0 – Badge pick-up:
It’s a free festival. I wasn’t not the only one clambering to get my free movie badge. Thank goodness Souad stood in line for 3 hours so I could slyly skip the other 99,999 people waiting to get the golden ticket to this freefilm festival.
Day 1 – Wildlife, Paul Dano, USA
Talking on the phone is a dying pastime in the US, but in Morocco it is still the preferred mode of communication. This was especially apparent sitting in a quiet movie theater and hearing the melodious jingle of phones going off every 10 minutes.
Day 2 – Burning, Lee Chang-Dong, South Korea
I realized this week was the first time I ever went to the movie theaters alone. It’s nice actually. You sit wherever you want, no one talks to you, and those uncomfortable scenes (you know, those really uncomfortable scenes) are much less uncomfortable when you’re not sitting next to your family member who still thinks you’re too young to be seeing that. Burning is based off Haruki Marukami’s book Barn Burning, so if you’re familiar with Marukami’s work, this is right in line. Twisted, erotic, grim, it left me paralyzed. A good one to see without a movie buddy.
Day 3 – Euforia, Valeria Golino, Italy
Morocco is a multi-lingual country, which means there are subtitles on all films in English, French, and Arabic. That’s a lot of words on one screen.
Day 4 – A day to give my bum a break and hit the gym
Day 5 – She’s So Lovely, Nick Cassavetes, USA
Ironically, the movies I enjoyed the least were the two American films. Souad and I considered leaving in the middle of the movie, but decided the bad movies were just as much a part of the film festival experience as the good ones.
Day 6 – Rafiki, Wanuri Kanhiu, Kenya
It was very interesting seeing people walk out of the theater as the two female protagonists in Rafikiprogressed their illicit homosexual relationship. I cried. A lot. I think the theater intentionally left the lights off after the movie ended to let people dry their tears.
Vanishing Days, Zhu Xin, China
Even though I didn’t exactly understand the plot of the movie, it was fun to practice my Chinese listening skills during the Q&A with the director after the film.
Day 7 – Capernaum, Nadine Labaki, Lebanon
Wow. Just wow. From watching stars roll up on the red carpet, to hearing the roaring applause as Capernaum’s director entered the room, to sitting speechless trying to process the emotions the film evoked, it was an experience I will never forget. Capernaum(Arabic for “chaos”) has been nominated for a Golden Globe (Best Picture – Foreign Language). If you have an opportunity to watch this film, it will change the way you see the world.
Also up for a Golden Globe is Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma. I really wanted to see Roma, but sadly missed it at the festival. Fortunately, it will be on Netflix on December 14th. But after this experience seeing so many movies in the theater, I now know that sitting at home watching a movie on a tiny computer screen pails in comparison to seeing it on the big screen.
I’ve spent over 54 hours of my Watson Year staring at a screen, but I don’t regret any of it. Movies started as a simple form of entertainment on my flight to Ireland, and often have been a nice escape when I need alone time, but they also have become a way of connecting with friends that I meet in each country. Just like food, movies are everywhere and their content and method of viewing reveal a lot about a culture and its people. I’m looking forward to seeing how this new love of movies evolves throughout the rest of my year.
So, I like movies now. You could even go so far to say I love movies (cinephile? Maybe.) I still love my Finding Nemoand Nicholas Sparks, but also appreciate a movie that makes me think.
For now, here’s a list of all the movies I’ve seen since I left the US. And, if you have any movie recommendations, I welcome anything you throw at me (except maybe not horror or sci-fi, not sure if I’m quite there yet).
Other movies I’ve seen since leaving the US:
- La La Land
- Love, Simon
- Lady Bird
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved
- Crazy Rich Asians: (ahhhh what an odd sense I pride I had at the end of this one. You cry when you least expect it. Also found all the other Asians in Galway at the theater. I think there were 3, maybe 4.)
- Good Will Hunting
- Dodgeball (with the Galway dodgers, of course)
- Set It Up
- The Social Network
- Crazy, Stupid, Love
- Black ’47 (Irish Potato Famine)
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi
- A Star is Born (in this swanky Galactic theater in Galway)
- Magic Mike
- Finding Dory (still love Nemo)
- Silver Linings Playbook
- Bohemian Rhapsody (We went on the expensive night at the theater in Morocco, so we paid the equivalent of a whopping $3, gasp)
- Before We Go
- Film Festival: Wildlife, Burning, Euforia, She’s So Lovely, Rafiki, Vanishing Days, Caparnaum