This past weekend marked the end of the Bridal Veil Film Festival, as we closed with the films Wings of Desire , Wardance , 2001: A Space Odyssey , and City of God . Wardance was something of a theme-movie for us, as all the proceeds from the festival were donated to the Rwanda Cinema Center. 2001 brought in a good crowd as one of the more well-known films shown in the past 3 weeks, and hundreds of people came out for the dance after the film.
I must say I'm sad to see the festival go. In an era of Netflix, YouTube, and home theaters, I think we have lost something in the community-cinema experience. Sure, DVDs provide convenience: no lines to wait in, no sold out shows, no annoying kids kicking the back of your chair. But there was a time when local cinemas were the only exposure to film available, and all films were watched in the company of neighbors, friends, and strangers. You'd laugh together, cry together, and discussions would naturally rise regarding the various issues posed in each film. I know that the group experience probably isn't enough to draw people out of the comfort of their homes and DVD players, but I am glad that events like the Bridal Veil Film Festival give us the opportunity to once again experience movies as a community.
And the festival was much more than a movie: we got the opportunity to see movies we probably wouldn't see otherwise, from cultures very different from our own. I can't imagine a better venue in which to watch a movie than at the foot of a waterfall, under the stars. Outdoor films are sometimes far and few between, but it's always fun when one comes along. The Bridal Veil Film Festival is an experience of cinema and nature, a melding of art that we as humans have created and art we could never replicate. It is an opportunity to come together as a community and experience culture in a new way. These international films give us a glimpse into a different world, and in the process we too reach out to these far-away lands and give something back.