Apr 2, 2009

Sarasota Dispatch #1

(CEC contributor Evan Louison, who stars in the short film The Nowhere Kids, is representing the film at this year's Sarasota Film Festival. He might not be seeing many movies, but his eyes are clearly wide open)

By Evan Louison

On my walk to the press office, I couldn’t ignore the oasis that appeared in the form of the local gun shop. The Bullet Hole. The heavens parted, the situation becoming increasingly apparent that I may not have anywhere near enough ammunition with me, I make a quick stop just to browse. We’ll see how today’s screening goes and if I have to take quick flight, I immediately calculate the number of steps between the store and the Regal Hollywood 20, the multiplex that houses today’s and all of Sarasota’s film festivities. Just to be safe. Something may come up and self-defense is always the order of the day.

In Sarasota, there is no need to signal before turning violently onto Main St. There seems to be a certain understanding here, amongst drivers of large cargo vans and convertibles alike that no one is out of their circle, that everyone is in on the joke, and looking out where they step because of it. It would appear a shame that no one informed me of this fact. Walking here seems alien to everyone who passes me, except for the fact that some of them are on foot as well. They pass and stare me up and down till the very second our heads pass, all the while giving me every sense that they are baffled by my choice to travel this way here.

At the bus stop near the airport, someone asks me what I’m doing in town. “Here with a film,” I begin to say before his busticket is outstretched immediately before me, him thrusting a pen into my hand and saying, “I’m from Connecticut, you gotta sign it for my old lady, she loves all that Lost shit and this’ll just make her day…” I don’t have the heart to tell him I have never seen Lost and therefore wouldn’t be important to his Old Lady, and instead scrawl something unintelligible on the ticket. His hands shaking and his eyes focused on mine, the most uncomfortable potential situations never fail to present themselves without a moment’s notice. Disappointment cannot begin to describe his expression.

I’m here to show a film I unknowingly appeared in and which has now garnered the attention of more than a few unsuspecting people. Unbeknownst to me, it would seem that everyone here is in a relatively same boat, though my waters seem to be less steady. If indeed we do end up aboard the same vessel, I’m sure I’ll be bailing mine out with empty wine cups in no time, faster than it took the Fargo levees to breach. No doubt they will all be safely held in the festival’s gratis cozy drink sleeves.

This morning at 7:30, awoken by the most strident and shrill woman’s voice I’ve ever heard (having heard some before), outside the festival office window: “I’m the only motherfucking one who cleans up this fucking street and I fucking hate these fucking shit! (sic),” my stomach begins its usual swim at this time of day. Thinking nothing of it, having heard the local darling’s reputation and being forewarned I might wake this way, I try to doze back and ignore the squalor in my head and in my abdomen. This is no time for food. That would be too beneficial a thing to do to yourself. But lo and behold, moments later the Voice returns. This time though, it would appear that the town crier has changed tacks completely. No longer satisfied with the world ignoring her daily voiced complaints and uncontested claims of being the only neighborhood able body pulling her own weight, she now seems to be reading the paper, the local entertainment listings, in the same voice and volume. “What the fuck is playing at the Regal Hollywood 20?!!! I don’t give a fuck! Motherfuckers!” I poke my head out the window and try to make friends: “Nowhere Kids!,” I tell her with my eyes still closed, “at 2:30 today!” And that is exactly how I got my date for the rest of the festival. That my friends, is true networking. I may bring her with me back to New York. At very least she’ll be at today’s Q&A. Her name is Sheila and she’s lived here all her life. All she’s been waiting for is someone to listen, and she’s finally found her man.