Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson





Building façade in Cannes, France

Wishing I was there

Okay, so last time I was in the middle of a cogent and prescient discussion of how the entire universe functions, as viewed through the lens of the seminal television science fiction series Babylon 5. I was in the very middle of making my point and exactly halfway through my well-thought-out argument, when I paused for a week. There was a good reason for this. (I’m not sure what that reason was, but I think I realized it was opening time for the local pub.) Anyway, I asked you to hold the profound thought that I was in the midst of, until this week, at which time I could succinctly and expertly wrap up all the loose ends I had laid out. Well, I’m going to ask you to hold that thought for one more week, because something more important has come up. To wit, it has occurred to me that there may be readers dying to know the answer to the question: Scott, what would you be doing right now if you were still in Seattle and not halfway around the world, waiting for opening time at the local pub?

So, here’s the answer. If I suddenly by magic found myself back in Seattle right now, here is what I would do.

First, I would run out and buy another TiVo. With the possible exception of certain friends and relatives, this has been the hardest thing to be without. I don’t consider myself a chronic television watcher, but I watch enough that I like to be in control of it instead of the other way around. Since TiVo or any similar product is not yet available in Ireland, I find myself reverting to the bad old pre-TiVo days of trying to simulate TiVo-ness by jotting down personal schedules and keeping VCRs programmed to capture everything I want to watch. It’s a lot of trouble, but it’s preferable (for me) to having to choose between “appointment television” or missing things I want to watch. Besides, I can no longer tolerate commercials unless seen while fast forwarding.

Second, I would buy and eat a lot of Post Grape Nuts. For some reason, this is the only food item I seem not to be able to find here that I used to eat regularly. I have learned that at least one health food store in County Wicklow carries it, but I have yet to find a supplier in the west. No other food seems to be a problem. Even Mexican food is no hassle, although I have to make it myself. So, if I was in Seattle I would head out to Redmond to eat a lot of enchiladas and drink a lot of margaritas at El Toreador.

But, if I were in Seattle right now, my top priority would definitely be to get to the Harvard Exit Theater on Thursday night, the 911 Media Arts Center on Friday Night and the Seattle Art Museum, and see a bunch of cutting edge Irish films. Sigh, how ironic is it that I’m missing a great Irish film and video festival because I’m in Ireland?

Yes, it’s time again for the Irish Reels Film & Video Festival. In its sixth year, the festival runs three days, which is shorter than in recent years. But some of us were wondering if there was going to be a festival at all this year, because of political shenanigans going on at a key supporting organization, the 911 Media Arts Center. I won’t get into the sordid details or express a personal opinion—except maybe to say that the small group of people who have taken over the organization are idiotic morons. The good news is the festival is on, and if you’re anywhere close to Seattle, you should go.

The opening night film is Liz Gill’s Goldfish Memory, about the pitfalls of the modern Dublin dating scene. The closing night film is Paul Greengrass’s feature film Bloody Sunday, about the deadly events in Derry on January 30, 1972, which are reverberating through Irish and British politics to this day. Co-producer Don Mullan will introduce the film. For the full schedule, check out www.irishreels.org.

I can personally recommend a couple of the films being shown. Photos to Send: People to Go Back To, to be screened on Saturday before Bloody Sunday, is an intriguing documentary, in the vein of Michael Apted’s 7 Up series, giving us an unusual before-and-after look at a number of people in County Clare. Director Deidre Lynch will present the film. The opening night short is Conor Horgan’s The Last Time, which won the top short film prize at the 2002 Cork Film Festival. It features a lovely performance by Linda Bassett, as a fiftysomething woman desperately trying to make up for lost time.

There is one film that I can actually claim to have something of a personal connection with, as I myself provided it to the film festival after seeing it on the RTÉ television series Arts Lives a few weeks ago and subsequently meeting the director. It is called Darkroom, and it is a documentary about the Irish photographer Harry Thuillier Jr., who died in Milan in 1997 at the age of 33. The film was made by Harry’s brother Ian, and I can’t even imagine how someone goes about tackling a subject so close or so painful. To his credit, Ian has made a film tribute that is not fawning, yet pays an homage both to his brother’s fascinating life as well as the spirit of his photography. I asked Ian if he planned to make more films, and he said that he definitely did. If he can bring the same passion and creativity to other subjects as he has brought to his first effort, he should have quite a promising career ahead of him.

-S.L., 6 March 2003


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