Saturday, March 14, 2009

Take Heart

(I took the above photo at the dog track in Galway, Ireland, in 2002. Read on to find out what the hell it has to do with anything.)

I woke up to some exciting news today. "Smalltimore" has been accepted at its first festival, "The Heart of England Film Festival"! Currently it is scheduled to screen on June 8th, the first day of the festival, in Tamworth, UK.

This festival just launched last year, but it is already attracting actors such as Marcia Gay Harden and Keifer Sutherland, who are involved in projects that will be screening there this year. And no matter how big or small it is, hey, we can say we screened internationally!

Acceptance at this festival also guarantees us screening, if we choose, at several other international festivals in places such as Ireland, Thailand, and South Africa. I'll be researching these a little more extensively to see if they are suitable to us. I know that the one in Ireland is a new one that if you pay the submission fee, you are guaranteed to screen there, which can mean the process is rather watered down. But then again, if you have a good product, it can easily stand out in a festival like this. The other reason I might do that festival is because it is in Galway.

I took an extensive 2-week tour of Ireland in 2002 that included Galway and it was one of my favorite towns. It is small and pretty, a working town, on the water, and they have a dog track. Our tour guide, Terry, told us that if we wanted to do something non-touristy to go there, it was locals (who are all pretty much regulars) only. Terry told us that if we wanted to really know the ins and outs, to ask the youngest person we could find there, as a lot of boys in the town more or less grow up at the track. I went, by myself, and sure enough there were lots of young boys scampering around, walking with a confident bounce in their step, head tilted back with an air of authority, and interacting with the well-weathered gray-haired regulars with such familiarity I wouldn't be surprised if they all went out together for a pint afterwards. The odds boards, unlike the electronic and computerized boards at Pimlico or Laurel, were actual boards - CHALK boards - each held up by an older man who would change the odds by hand as the bets came in.

The track was well lived-in, the age showing on the facility as well as (some of) the patrons. I made a bet, something I had never done before (this was well before I got hooked on the ponies here in Baltimore). For dog races, if you don't know, there is an electric rabbit on the rail that the dogs are trained to chase. SLAM!!! The gates open, the greyhounds take off like slim bullets with fur, maniacally chasing something they can never hope to catch. This was very exciting to me, a very new and different experience. The dogs are unbelievably fast. The track is not as big as a horse track, of course, and there were no TV screens so you could see the dogs up close as they ran. But the track was small enough that you could still see them yourself when they were running on the opposite side. As they approached the final bend, even from where I stood I could see that the dogs were slowing down. When they came into full view as they rounded the corner, they seemed confused and started running into each other, crossing each other's paths. I had never seen a dog race before, but surely this can't be how they all go? The dogs further slowed down and now were just bumping into each other, looking around, when the race caller announced: "Sorry, the electric rabbit has broken. All bets are off, please turn in your tickets for a refund at the window!" I looked and sure enough, there was the rabbit, still sitting on the rail at his starting position.

So, things like that, that may be why I enter some festivals that may or may not do me that much good. You never know who you are going to meet or what kind of experiences you are going to have when you travel. Even bad experiences later make for good stories. Throw the movie at a film festival into the mix, and who knows what might happen? In Ireland, I'M the one with the sexy accent ;)

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