The launch event of the William & Mary Global Film Festival (GFF) kicked off on Friday night at the Kimball Theatre, and though the evening was brisk, the theatre was sold out.
The special event introduced the theme of the 2014 Global Film Festival -- “Journeys & Passages” -- with works from Chilean director Sebastian Silva (“Old Cats” and “The Maid”), Chilean web series creator Cristobal Ross (“Gringolandia”) and featuring American actor Michael Cera (“Juno” and “Arrested Development”). The theme was chosen in honor of the Reves Centre’s Silver Anniversary, which is this year.
Shown at the event were two of Silva’s films: “Magic Magic” and “Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus,” both starring Cera, and episodes from Ross’ webseries “Gringolandia.” Silva, Ross and Cera were present to give a brief introduction to their films, and were available for question-and-answer sessions after the screenings.
“We’re super excited about this,” Erik Michel ’14 said.
Michel, a member of the Global Film Festival leadership committee, was enthusiastic about what this meant for the future of the film festival.
“We had been trying to get Michael Cera to come since mid-October, and after we got Sebastian Silva to come, he finally agreed,” Michel said. “After we made the announcement he was going to be there, we sold out in 48 hours.”
“Michael Cera is definitely the biggest celebrity we’ve ever dealt with at the Global Film Festival,” added grad student and assistant director for the GFF Sarah Stanford. “We’re very excited that all the filmmakers agreed to come.”
The event itself consisted of Silva’s two feature films, “Magic Magic” and “Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus,” each preceded by three to four webisodes of Ross’ “Gringolandia” and separated by a short intermission. During the intermission, Chilean food was served, and a silent auction was set up for the guests to peruse. Sponsoring the night were the Charles Center, Alma Mater Productions (AMP), the Reves Center for International Studies and the Kimball Theatre.
“Gringolandia,” a newly released webseries viewable on YouTube, gives a comedic view of New York through the eyes of a Chilean man and his American girlfriend. Ross described his work as “designed to be seen on a cell phone” -- short and accessible from anywhere. Episodes included visiting a hotdog stand and asking Americans what their impressions of Chile were.
Silva’s work, however, was a little darker. “Magic Magic,” he said, was “highly unenjoyable” and the “feel-bad event of the year.” Silva said that it was the “evil twin” of his other film of the night, “Crystal Fairy.”
“Magic Magic” is a psychological thriller about Alicia, an American girl who goes to Chile with her cousin Sarah and friends. As time goes on, however, Alicia’s culture shock gives way to genuinely disturbing events, and as animals and people begin to act in almost demonic ways, she quickly finds the situation escalating wildly out of her control. An insomniac, she loses the ability to distinguish between dreams and reality.
“I came expecting (to see) Michael Cera,” Ben Raliski ’15 said. “But this was definitely the most intense, visually disturbing film I have seen in a long time.”
“Crystal Fairy,” on the other hand, was a much more light-hearted film starring Cera as Jamie, an American in Chile who meets up with an eccentric woman named Crystal Fairy to go on a trip in pursuit of a hallucinogenic cactus.
“While the first one was dark and brooding and psychological,” Raliski said, “the second one was a drug-filled adventure that was basically filled with hope at the end, and generally quite pleasant.”
Overall, the GFF staff seemed pleased with the outcome.
“This was really great,” said Elizabeth Pelletier ’14, public relations chair for the festival. “It fit really well with our film festival theme, having films featuring an American actor collaborating with a Chilean director.”
Stanford was optimistic about the success of the 2014 season.
“We had a great turnout,” she said. “Hopefully this will get more people to come out in February for the main event.”
The Film Festival will take place over President’s Day Weekend, Feb. 13-16, and will feature films from assorted countries about journeys, personal development and self-discovery.