New Forest Film Festival: And the Winner ...Isn't.
On 11th September 2011, when most attention was paid to the coincidence of the Earth's position in its orbit to that ten orbits previous, I was disproportionately pleased with another piece of news. I had been named as one of two on the shortlist for the 2011 New Forest Film Festival's Critic of the Year.
Your friends have to be kind about what you write. You can never be sure whether praise reflects quality, or supportiveness. The five festival organizers had enjoyed my work, and were supposedly busy trying to work out whether they liked mine a little more or less than the entry by some other guy.
There were a couple of ill omens. One of the judges, to whom I'd not been introduced, congratulated me on being shortlisted at the screening of Project Nim, leaving me with that residue of paranoia over, wasn't it judged "blind", and should I really be talking to someone who, allegedly, has yet to determine the fate of my entry. I also had that feeling, that as I volunteer for the festival, the organizers might strategically shy from claims of nepotism.
The other short listed piece in my category, Senior (Over 18), Meek’s Cutoff (2011) by Rob Munday is a great solid straightfoward review. On the other hand, my self-referential essay about The Brothers Bloom may be too clever for it's own good in describing a film which may be too clever (and self-referential) for it's own good. So, the judging may come down more on taste, as I admit we may have a dead heat on quality. Still, although the £50 prize would be welcome, it's a rare bump for my writing, which makes the outcome seem immaterial. Clearly my writer's ego is needier than my wallet.
The Festival website announced:
Congratulations to the finalists who will be invited a special award ceremony ahead of the film Shock Treatment at Brockenhurst College on Saturday 17th September at 7:00pm where our special guest Richard O’Brien will announce the winner in each category with a cash prize of £50.
In the end it was Mark Kermode, not Richard O'Brien who aptly announced the winners of the Critic Competition. This change in plan serving as the final bad omen, which was also the third strike in the theory that Richard O'Brien is unintentionally my nemesis. Here's the award presentation in its brief glory:
Be that as it may, I was still chuffed to bits, and perhaps it was for the best as I now have it on record that Mark Kermode, 'im off the Radio and Telly, described my film criticism as "really worryingly good." Even if that does open up left handed compliment speculation over what constitutes "worryingly good" (a tasty but cholesterol filled treat? the Neutron Bomb? sex in any position that looks ridiculous and unrepeatable when inadvertently glimpsed in a mirror?), and despite my insecurities, I can accept it in the generous spirit in which it was offered. Five complete strangers liked something I wrote and admitted it in public.
Am I turning into Sally Field?