Friday, October 8, 2010
The kick-off for the second Carmel Art & Film Festival drew a stylish and sizable (for a Thursday) crowd at Sunset Center. They were fueled by diminutive but delectable appetizers from Cal Stamenov and lubricated with Bernardus wines, but the real energy came from the atmospheric buzz surrounding this year's festival, a big part of which emanated from the art, including a creative and diverse 50-photo show lining Marjorie Evans gallery, and 66 film screenings over the weekend, as well as the presence of art provocateur Mr. Brainwash, who milled about the crowd genial and accessible.
"This is my second time in Carmel," said the L.A. resident through a France-inflected accent. "The first time I was here for two hours. It's a little town that feels good. It's not a city you need to struggle in or run around. Nobody runs here." (Pronounced "ear".)
Earlier in the day he had installed his art—cut-outs of Clint Eastwood shooting a Super-8 camera like a gun, a ferocious-looking dog made of fresh black tire treads, all splashed with his signature pink paint—in a manner he called a "puzzle," and when asked if he would create more art during his stay, said, "Maybe I will do something, I don't know."
After some time merrily chatting and picture taking and playing about, at the sound of a ringing bell, the gala attendees filtered into the Sunset Center hall where they took their seats and were greeted by festival co-founder Erin Clark, who told them from the stage of an incongruity she had experienced earlier.
"Sam Linder Jaguar is a sponsor," she said. "Thank you, Sam. I felt really special. I got to drive in a lovely Jaguar, and two hours later I'm licking envelopes."
"You can't talk film in this place, this country, this planet, without talking to Clint," she said, by way of introducing the guest actor/director after whom the night's new filmmaker awards were named.
But first, the Dina Eastwood-managed South African boy band Overtone performed a short set of a cappella songs, first a pop song in English, then a song in an African language, then a medley of Clint Eastwood-informed music, including a faithful (and well received) version of Ennio Morricon's "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and a Dirty Harry-inspired number with the refrain "I'm a lucky punk."
Then Dina and Clint walked onto the stage and, in charming fashion, bantered about film in a format that resembled an interview, which they both referred to.
"It's like when you first interviewed me 14, 15 years ago," said Clint.
"Seventeen years," she shot back.
After the screening of the Clint Eastwood Filmmaker Award winning short The Butterfly Circus and subdued and quirky feature Obselidia, gala-goers made their way to CAFF headquarters (with a pitstop at Mundaka, where DJ Hanif Wondir was spinning grooves one wordly Belgian man described as "tres, tres bon"), where an afterparty stocked with beer, wine, apps, art and a Twitter station offered late night opportunity for social mash-ups and interesting tableaus, like Erin Clark getting comfortably barefoot but composed, a party-goer being falsely accused of mischief and ejected (he was later allowed back in, with supervision), stories from the festival front by organizer Tom Burns, who seemed energized but relieved at the auspicious kick-off, a mini-set by the Overtones, and revved up chatter and excited conversation amongst the filmmakers, filmgoers, artists and patrons.
It was like having dessert before the coming art and film feast.