I don’t know about you, but the past week has been rough.
I spent the 2008 and 2012 Election Nights in Los Angeles at AFI FEST (which is happening now by the way). In 2008 I was still living in Texas and was away from home for the evening. In 2012, I had moved to California four months earlier. Each night was different, but they were memorable. Los Angeles felt alive. Watching the results with fellow art and film lovers was the best place for me to be.
Watching Tuesday’s results surrounded by Denver staff and patrons started with the same mood, but as the night wore on the room became somber and quiet. I texted friends and family as each state’s prediction rolled in. At some point I couldn’t hold back my tears any more. A feeling of deep dread and loneliness sunk in. I found Britta and we hugged and cried.
The next morning, I wondered if audiences would show up. Thankfully they did. My eyes puffy and red from hours of crying, I stood in front of a room full of Denver locals who bought a ticket to see short films. It was a sliver of restored hope. I wanted to be in a movie theater that day to see stories about diversity and overcoming struggles. They did too.
Being in a theater that day wasn’t about avoiding an issue or the situation. It was about remembering who we are; remembering humanity, respect and love. I love curating films because it sparks conversation. And now more than ever we need to communicate with each other, to listen. Not point figures or walk away. Cinema and art are a tool for respectful dialogue. The films created out of this dark moment in our culture will be powerful and that brings me hope.
Wednesday night I stood in the wings of the theater for all 90 minutes to watch the short films again with the audience. This was a place of community and inspiration. It was where I needed to be. I grieved for the dreams I had before Tuesday night as each short played. I remembered how important my part is in a larger movement. I’m so thankful to have been working at a film festival this week. We may not be curing cancer (which is what us veterans say when problems occur during the event), but we are making a difference in promoting and showcasing art.
To any filmmakers reading this, I am so excited for how this week will inspire you. Use this energy to make something special. Use your unique voice is important. And if you’re from the city, explore the stories of rural areas. (Lord knows there are plenty of LA-based stories out there already.) If you’re from the country, visit the city and see the diversity. Our country is desperate for change and we all feel abandoned in some sort of way. Now is the time for film to create community and conversation, so let’s get to work.