March. Almost spring. And there is this electricity in the air that Ricky Fritts talks about in the movie American Beauty.
And it’s the time of year where I will be spending the majority of my days in the different cinemas for the Luxembourg City Film Festival. Last year I was a volunteer at the LCFF and I loved it! So I decided to volunteer again this year. As I was on a long blog-hiatus, I never got around to talk about my experience as a volunteer and show the photos I took. What better time to write about it just some days before the official opening of LCFF? So here we go.
If you know me, you know that I am very curious person and that I love making new experiences. So one of my main motivations for volunteering, beside my love for movies and cinema, was to get a glimpse of a movie festival, but from the other side. It all started in autumn 2015 when I saw a call for volunteers for the LCFF 2016 on Facebook. I was intrigued. I had of course heard about the festival and had attended it as a viewer. Why not get more implicated, I asked myself and after some inner debating, I decided to go for it.
The first step was to fill out a form with basic details like the languages I speak and my availabilities and send it to the volunteer-coordinator along with my CV. He then contacted me to fix an appointment so we could meet in person. That was in December, around Christmas time. During this first “interview”, I was explained how the festival works and the role of a volunteer. And of course you get to know each other. After this meeting, I was convinced that I would like to volunteer and was eagerly waiting for the program and this new little adventure.
In January and February, we had some more meetings with all the volunteers where we got a more detailed explanation about our role and the rules and regulations, where we signed our contract and where we visited Cinémathèque and Utopia to get to know these places. This is a point that I really enjoyed: to venture around the cinema, to discover places and the “backstage” that you usually don’t see as a normal cinemagoer. During one of my volunteer shifts, I was even allowed to go in the technical room in the Cinémathèque where the movie reel turns during a showing. Fascinating!
Some days before the festival, we got our final personal program, some documents with further explanations, along with your badge and funky blue t-shirt that we had to wear during our shifts. And of course the super cool black tote bag (I am a tote bag lover and have this unhealthy obsession of collecting them).
Fast forward to the big day: The opening ceremony on the 25.02.2016. There was excitement and nervousness. Who will be there? Am I dressed ok? Overdressed? Under-dressed? What exactly will I do? Who will the other volunteers be? These and hundreds of other questions swam through my mind. I arrived at Utopolis and then we started. We all got assigned different task. I volunteered to volunteer at the welcome desk where we welcomed the invitees. It was exciting. And then there was this one moment when it got super stressful: too many people and too much noise. When the screening started, we could finally breathe for a while. And eat something. After the movie screening, we were “guarding” the reserved place for the after party and after our shift, we could stay a while. First shift done. Ouf.
During the festival, I was mainly volunteering at the General Headquarters, which was this beautiful and cosy Magic Mirror tents on the Place de la Constitution/Gëlle Fra. Here, there were mainly workshops and other kind of events, beside the information desk. You could also pass by to have a coffee or drinks. So my task varied between welcoming visitors, answering their questions and helping to rearrange the place between two events. And often, tourists ventured in thinking the tent was a tourist office and they asked for maps of the City. So one of my unofficial tasks was to redirect lost tourists to the tourist office. On some days, especially when there was no event, volunteering in the General Headquarters was a bit slower and I didn’t really know what to do. But luckily, there were the other volunteers and all the informal exchanges. One night, during my shift, there was a screening of an older black and white movie with a very contemporary subject matter (I don’t remember the name) with this electro-synth band (again, I don’t remember the name) who was playing live music during the movie. I loved the contrast. That must have been my favorite event, my personal highlight.
On one sunny Sunday, I spent my shift (morning and afternoon) in Cinémathèque were movies were shown to kids with the director present and a question/answering session after the movies. It was the first time for many kids and it was the cutest thing to see how excited they were and they had the most interesting and honest questions for the director. Cinémathèque is one of the prettiest cinemas in Luxembourg. The tiles, the decor, the charm. A visual heaven for wanna-be photographers like me. I wish I had more shifts in actual cinemas because I feel like that’s where the essence of a movie festival is. Hopefully this year.
And then of course, all the amazing movies! I saw so many great stories: Demolition and Land Of Mine were my favorite ones because they touched me the most. I would have loved to watch more movies, especially more documentaries. But time didn’t allow it. I was still doing my daytime job and other adult things on the side.
In a couple of days, it’s show time again. I went to the press conference some weeks ago and the program is just WOW. The new Terrence Malick movie, so many interesting and contemporary documentaries and Ray Liotta is coming to little Luxembourg. And there are also fun out-of-the-cinema installations, like the Wes Anderson exposition in Cercle Cité or the virtual reality Pavilion in Casino.
So in March, you know where you will find me: volunteering, taking photos and enjoying good movies. And of course, blogging about it.