Monday, May 12, 2014

The International Random Film Festival

The film festival is, in its purest form, a hallmark of high art. A town's movie theaters are taken over for the duration of the festival to show films that are, usually, being shown to the public for the first time, often the only time. Even the ones that will go on to see wide theatrical release come to the festival in a raw form; the director will bring something pretty close to their original vision to the festival and use the reaction from festivalgoers when he reenters the editing room so as to make it more palatable for a general audience.

They are typically taken deadly seriously. Typically.

Then there's the International Random Film Festival. Maybe there will be high art there. They don't really care if there is. Every element of the festival is determined randomly. Festivals take submissions beforehand because they can't show everything people want to screen. Usually these are picked on merit, but, well, guess how the 50 screened films- any origin, any genre, any length- are picked at the International Random Film Festival., go on, guess.

Bet you didn't answer with this, which is how it happened last year.

The date of each year's festival is determined by going on and having it pick a number between 1 and 365 (366 in leap years, of course). The location was at first determined by going on Wikipedia and clicking the Random Article button until it spits out a location that lists a local population, but in 2012, they realized there was a geographical bias, as everything they were getting was in northeastern Europe. So now they use's coordinate generator, which is a thing I'm just now learning they have, and clicking until they come close enough to somewhere inhabited that they can go with it. What they've come up with is the following:

2010: Wiesensteig, Germany
2011: Bor Zapilski, Poland
2012: Anija, Estonia
2013: Garpenberg, Sweden
2014: ...oh, hello, Gdynia, Poland, I believe we've already met when talking about you and international ridiculousness.
2015: The first festival outside northeastern Europe will be next January in Hofuf, Saudi Arabia.

How do they pick who wins? That's right, now you're getting it. Even the awards themselves are more or less random, aside from picking an overall winner. There has been the Spoon Award, the Goldfish Award, the Runaway Turtle Award, the Pasta Award, and don't even try to figure out any sort of meaning behind them because there isn't one. Last year in Garpenberg, an audience member- selected at random, of course- got to present at least one element of nonrandomness, as he simply was permitted to pick his favorite film.

I suppose there are other elements of nonrandomness; for instance, they do try and use actual movie theaters, and try to make the screenings of reasonable length. And the films themselves aren't randomly generated; that you already see in the form of static, and that wouldn't be any fun. (Unless that's what the film's producer decides to do.)

I would show one of the films from one of the festivals, but it turns out it's really super hard to hunt one down. So just take my word for it that something called Spycat and the Paper Chase can get a screening.

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