Expectations during a film festival are curious things. Often you are looking forward to a supposedly great film, only to be deeply disappointed by what you see on screen. Inversely, you get free tickets to a film that did not interest you in any way, and this film might just be the hit of the festival. This year, Steam of Life, Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen’s documentary about men’s discussions in a Finnish sauna, brought this kind of pleasurable twist.
This morning, I decided to check out an event with the promising name of “Human Rights Brunch”, hosted by the Human Rights Film Network. When I got there, the hall was empty. A lush display of fruit, nuts, cheese, freshly pressed orange juice and coffee had hardly been touched. I asked the waitress behind the display where all the people were. She replied, “They’ve already left”. When I asked her the number of people that had attended, she took a moment to count the people in her mind. Twenty.
A little later, a middle-aged woman walked in. We struck up a conversation, talking about our lives and places we’d been to. Surprisingly, we had lived in the same places : Berlin, Montreal, Strasburg. She is a former diplomat turned freelance journalist and news producer who met her German husband while positioned in Syria. Their wedding ring bears an engraving of the date that they met. It was the 2nd August 1990, the day when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. 16 years later, while they were celebrating their wedding anniversary, he was executed.
Once again I was reminded of how people’s lives are interconnected. And how, in the bigger (motion) picture of life, everything is relative. Relatively speaking, the Human Rights Brunch was a major disappointment ; though it did deliver its modest promise of “a break from the hectic festival”, it wasn’t like I imagined it would be. Instead, it brought me something unpredictable. Expectations during a film festival are curious things.