Do the antics of the audience hold the festival back?
I will preface this by saying that Fantasia is an amazing festival. For many of us, pouring over the programming at the start of July has become somewhat of a tradition. Fantasia gives everyone the chance to see foreign and independent films for only ten dollars a seat –and in the heart of Downtown, no less. It is inexpensive and convenient, and you can actually get tickets, unlike a certain other film festival (I’m looking at you, TIFF). Frankly, Fantasia has everything going for it.
So why can’t I recommend it?
I’ve often heard people say that the problem with public transit was that the public was on it. Unfortunately, in this case, Fantasia seems to suffer the same affliction. The absolute worst thing about Fantasia — and the reason why I cannot recommend it and may not return next year — is wholeheartedly, 100 percent, the audience.
I swear, everything is going fine until you sit down in the theatre. I would even venture that it’s going great up to the moment the lights go down. Then, it begins: first one person, then a chorus. The meowing.
Who started this? And for what purpose? It is something I would expect from my 6-year-old niece at playtime, not a bunch of adults sitting down at an international film festival. It is the most juvenile thing I have ever seen. First of all, it is annoying — and no, it is not funny. Where is the humour in it? What is the punchline? Please, illuminate me. My feeble, comedically-challenged mind cannot find the genius in your incessant meowing.
Oh, and I wish it ended when the movie started, but no. Dark screen? Meowing. Credits roll? Meowing. Lights are still off when the film is over? You guessed it: meowing.
And how I wished it stopped there. Why do you many Fantasia fans feel the need to talk the whole time? I’m talking about you, person who laughs during an emotional death scene. Or you, the one who yells “OWNED” when a punch is landed in an action flick. Or the gaggle of teenagers who sit down to watch an anime film only to practice their Japanese out loud the entire time.
I could forgive these things in a normal movie theatre. Sure, the ticket would have been more expensive, but at least I would have the chance to see the movie again. But at Fantasia, that’s it. That’s likely the one time I will ever get a chance to see this film, and it was ruined by you. So, thanks a lot for that.
And if you won’t do it for me, then do it for the directors. So many of them come to Fantasia to give a talk before or after the screening. They are sitting there, right in the audience. What do you think they feel? For many of them, this is the premiere of their film. They poured their sweat and blood into making something great. And you just meowed at it.
But my last message is for the Fantasia organizers. You guys are doing good work. But no one will ever, ever take your festival seriously with this kind of crowd. At a real festival — or even an ordinary cinema — there are consequences for acting like a child. Why aren’t there ushers to kick out rowdy movie-goers? Why aren’t there rules in place to discourage this kind of behaviour? You have the chance to make something great — but first, something needs to change.
And until it does, this is likely the last Fantasia Fest for me.