Tue, Sep 02, 2014 - Page 12 News List

Film fests for a few (oddballs especially)

By Sam Roberts  /  NY Times News Service

Cinephiles with an interest in cats may relish the Feline Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Photo: Reuters

Overwrought because you missed the first anxiety film festival this summer in London? Fear not.

You can still catch the Los Angeles Feline Film Festival, the next Food Film Fest and the International Festival of Short Fiction Films from the Islands of the World.

Moreover, there’s always hope for another New York City Mental Health Film Festival (which “defeats stigma by bringing together mental health recipients and film buffs”); the Let’s All Be Free Film Festival (“dedicated to exploring what it means to be free”); and the Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition, not to mention (we will, anyway) the inevitable CinErotic FilmFest; Mockfest, which features only satirical mockumentaries; and even Blobfest, at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, where a portion of the 1958 science fiction classic The Blob was filmed and which celebrates by screening monster movies.

“People are always searching for communities that are like-minded,” said Jane Rosenthal, a founder of the considerably more catholic Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

More mainstream festivals in Venice and Toronto are just around the corner, too (Telluride’s started on Friday), but screenings aimed at more eclectic audiences seem to be proliferating.

“Niche festivals allow every oddity and every interest to come together,” Rosenthal said.

“There are ones for every cultural group, for human rights, for religions. And then you have obscure interests you can curate for: from sumo wrestlers to reptilian advocates, agro-terrorists to films that the grand rabbi has blessed.”

And just imagine the potential for film festivals that cater to even more eccentric passions.

“I get a headache just trying to think of possibilities,” said Peter Bogdanovich, the director and critic.

Audiences suffering from paranoia might take a devil-may-care approach to a festival that featured The Parallax View, The Conversation and Chinatown.

Those who thrive on schadenfreude might relish a Festival of Financial Flops that screened Heaven’s Gate, Ishtar and The Postman. An Ennui Film Festival, one critic suggested, could include La Dolce Vita and L’Avventura.

“There’s always a cinephiliaphobics festival, for those with a fear of celluloid-worshiping zombies,” said Howard A. Rodman, a professor at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.

Thane Rosenbaum, a senior fellow at New York University Law School and director of its Forum on Law, Culture and Society, suggested an Agoraphobia Film Festival that focused on wide-open spaces or densely packed ones (think of Midnight Cowboy); and a Genius Driven to Madness Film Festival, which could feature A Beautiful Mind, Shine (about the pianist David Helfgott) and Lust for Life (about Vincent van Gogh).

What about an Enough Already Film Festival, featuring Harry Potter, Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequels, said Jeffrey Lyons, the film critic, or a Dane Cook Unfunny Comic Film Festival?

In Britain this summer, the Mental Health Foundation screened 15 films during its Anxiety Arts Festival.

“The history of film is the history of anxiety,” the film program curator, Jonathan Keane, was quoted as saying, recalling that in 1896, filmgoers supposedly fled screaming from a Lumiere brothers movie because they believed the steam locomotive on the screen was careening right at them.

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