Göteborg Film Festival 2024

The Göteborg Film Festival is on its fifth day. While I no longer screen films at the Draken theatre, there are plenty of reminders of my past life this time of year. Local newspapers tend to highlight the opening night and the party that follows. The latter, of course, is where many festival hopefuls mingle with the crowd and hope to score, one way or another. Said media might then publish a few notes during the ten days that follow, especially if there were celebrities attending, but it’s actually all pretty low profile these days.

But I also get pings on Facebook from my friends who still work for the festival. My successor at the Draken, of course. Poor guy; he’s been running digital ever since I left. From the looks of it, though, his schedule is decent and he’s got the time to stop for drinks when the last video of the day is done. Good for him. I don’t miss the video.

But there are also the techs who fix things, before and during the festival, and who then tear everything down after the last curtain call. They post pictures of projectors, electrical installs , newly raised screens, etc, and that’s when I really miss the work. Not the digital stuff, mind, but the 35mm (and sometimes 16, and rarely 70) prints and the work to keep all that running smoothly.

I miss inspecting and assembling prints. I miss the planning of my next few days. I miss the coffee in the early mornings, trying to wake up while checking the newly arrived prints. I even miss the now-and-then work of changing light bulbs in the auditorium.

It was a different world, I know. Who am I to say what the lure of the festival of today is? I know I left in large part because the work was becoming too easy and commonplace for me to care. Assembling, inspecting, and running a film print is very different from uploading content from a portable hard drive to a server and then clicking Play a few times, either to check the format and locating a curtain call or click Play again for the actual show. It’s all ones and zeros, and there is nothing you can do to change the outcome of the next click beyond finding a timestamp where you do your curtain call.

If you can find the motivation to spend ten days uploading files and finding a few clicks, then good for you. I didn’t, which is why I left.

But my current problem is that I still miss what the work used to be.

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