How To Talk To Normal People About Fantastic Fest – A Recap of 2016

Fantastic Fest is one of the highlights of my year. In general I surround myself with other film buffs who are fully aware of the eccentricity and glory of the festival. Here at Cinapse we’re all pretty deeply engaged in the film world, for instance. On Twitter all I do is talk about movies with other movie people. But if you’re anything like me, no matter how hard you try, you are also constantly surrounded by normal people. Family, co-workers, friends, and most definitely people on Facebook… they know you like movies. But they don’t understand you or your crazy movie festival. So now that the festival is over, and you’re back in the real world, here are a few tips for talking about the festival in such a way as to make normal people care.

Recommend Movies That’ll Come To Theaters!

While we’d all love to talk about Bad Black, the Ugandan action movie we saw (and we should still talk about that), or that four hour long Indian film, if you find yourself surrounded by normal people… stop and think through which films had the biggest stars, or will be released in actual movie theaters. We saw plenty of stuff that’ll actually grace the screens of normals the world over. My top three normal people movies (distinct from my 3 favorite movies, at least in part) include the following:

Arrival – Perhaps the most “destined for a wide release” film that I saw at Fantastic Fest is this one. Sure, it’s a sci-fi movie about communicating with aliens… but it might also be nominated for best picture come Oscar time. It stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker… all household names. And while director Denis Villeneuve may not be widely known in popular circles just yet, he will be soon enough if his last film, Sicario, and this one have any say in the matter. Arrival is thrilling, intelligent, and packs an emotional wallop. It will be hugely appealing to wide audiences and is easily among the very best films of 2016. Don’t miss Jon Partridge and David Delgado‘s full reviews of the film.

Colossal – Anne Hathaway is beloved by normals the world over. So is Jason Sudeikis! What director Nacho Vigolondo has done here with Colossal is to bring enough high caliber star power to potentially tempt normal people into seeing what is decidedly a less than normal premise. Colossal is ultimately a powerful drama about chemical dependency, co-dependency, and finding the strength to combat and overcome these destructive behaviors. With career-best performances from both actors and an empowering storyline like that… who wouldn’t be interested? Right? Just maybe casually mention the fact that Anne Hathaway’s character realizes that a giant monster which materializes in Seoul, Korea and ravages the town is somehow completely tied to her every move. Check out Brendan Foley’s full review!

The Girl With All The Gifts – This one might be a stretch for the normals. But then again, The Walking Dead is the biggest hit on cable television… so I’d say zombies have gone pretty mainstream. That’s part of the problem for us Fantastic Festers, right? We’ve seen it all when it comes to zombies. But The Girl With All The Gifts is a whole new riff on the undead with an amazing cast, a thrilling premise, and the ultimate selling point for regular folks: a young adult fiction book upon which it is based! It’s the most action-packed and fast paced of the films I’ve recommended here, so that might help as well. Here’s my complete review.

Mention The Celebrities!

Photo Credit: Rick Kern

All film festivals involve visiting talent and Fantastic Fest is no different. Except for how different it is. Stars and behind the camera talent often make an effort to attend festivals in order to promote their films and give press and industry folks an opportunity to interview them and get buzz going for their upcoming releases. The awesome thing about Fantastic Fest is that talent regularly get to simply attend the fest along with everyone else, watching movies and having a great time. Fest goers are well trained to let celebrities be and have an awesome experience right alongside of them. There are still red carpets and Q&As. There are still thrilling surprises. Visiting talent are often promoted so fans can geek out over their announced attendance. And there might even be some podcasts recorded live with the biggest visiting talent.

Normal people love celebrities. Geeks do too. So feel free to let normal folks know all the exciting celebrities you saw! Even then, however, take into account who you’re talking to. For instance… I probably geeked out the hardest about attending a screening with Dolph Lundgren. But not everyone is into that guy. Or when talking to my parents, the name I mentioned first was none other than the Six Million Dollar Man himself, Lee Majors! They’re just the right age to know exactly who I was talking about. Perhaps the biggest guns to break out came with the secret screening. Director M Night Shyamalan and star James McAvoy showed up to screen their new film Split, which was the first time the film had been screened publicly. And director Tim Burton came to share Miss Peregrine with the festival. These are big names at any festival, and certainly we were proud to have them at Fantastic Fest.

Everyone Likes Parties and Games and Events!

Well, everyone except me, who just kind of wants to watch movies. But Fantastic Fest is full of epic events like the Fantastic Debates, in which people debate about movie topics and then physically pummel one another. Or the Fantastic Feud, a trivia night. There’s also a closing night party, an opening night party, and a performance from a Satanic marching band in the Highball! Okay, maybe don’t mention Itchy-O when hyping Fantastic Fest to normal folks. But everything else party-related? Go for it!

Fantastic Fest isn’t QUITE a festival that normal people will someday love and enjoy. It’s for genre cinephiles and it’s our heaven. But we definitely want to spread the word about our festival that could, and hopefully these pointers will help that guy at your office look it up and get it on his radar so he can ask you about what weird movies you recommend some day!

And I’m Out.

Photo Credit: Jack Plunkett

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the author

Ed changed careers and moved halfway across the country from Maryland to Austin with his amazingly understanding wife just to figure out how to earn a living watching movies. He once heard it said that NY/LA are where you go to MAKE movies, but Austin is where you go to WATCH movies. And that is the truth. But seriously, if anyone knows how to make a living watching movies, please let him know. Twitter: @Ed_Travis