a week ago tuesday, i met darren at glen lakes amc to see a movie where the children progress through decades without aging so much as a month. the movie was entitled the life and death of peter (i bet you think i'm about to say pan here, but i'm not) sellers.
the crowd was more or less well-behaved, but there was nothing extra required of them to attend the screening. just load up on their popcorn, enjoy the film, and then scuttle back out into the night.
this tuesday night, i had the opportunity to witness incredible feats of human survival pitted against incredible feats of human apathy and consumerism.
darren and i went to see hotel rwanda at the angelika. as with many free movies, the theater was packed. since the email clearly stated the director terry george would be present for a Q&A along with paul rusesabagina (the real life inspiration for the movie), we knew we would have to keep our bladders well-prepped. for darren, this included two trips to the restroom which just happened to coincide with an elderly man who grunted and thrusted his hips instead of shaking off dawdling drops of urine with his hands.
the movie put a spotlight on the struggles of one man to survive and save his family along with almost 1300 others during the genocide in rwanda that lasted for 100 days in 1994 and left a million dead in its wake. the story was incredibly heartrending and poignant and i admit i had to suck back the tears all the way until the end of the Q&A. but, as usual, as soon as the credits started to roll, so did many of the audience members. i would guess in the neighborhood of 30-40. they had been given their free movie and they didn't care fuck-all about giving anything back... in particular, respect to the filmmaker and the man who lived it. i was more mortified than usual.
the first person to ask a question was a nearly-tearful elderly man trying to make his way out of the theater. he had been a volunteer in rwanda in 94-95 and had seen the aftermath of hundreds of thousands of refugees and was rightfully emotional from watching the film. he was excused.
the second person to ask a question was someone who had been a small boy in rwanda at the time and had hidden out in a church 700m from the hotel des milles collines (where the story takes place). he had escaped being butchered along with his mom and two sisters, but his three brothers and father had not been so lucky. he was thankful that paul, as a Hutu, was trying to show the world that some Hutus tried to help instead of kill.
then a somewhat plump african-american (admittedly born in america) stood up dressed in colorful african fabric and a beanie and began explaining how he too is a victim of genocide. because 400 years ago, his ancestors were brought here as victims of genocide. he also informed us how america has many dichotomies (okay... he didn't use nearly so elegant a term, but i forget which one he kept reiterating) like the fact that 51% of americans with aids look like him and how blah blah blah blah look like him, etc. he was tilting and whirling out of control with his diatribe for several minutes before the director cut him off and explained this movie wasn't trying to right all wrongs. personally, i wanted to tell him to shut the fuck up because he too was excused to get in his car and drive back to his nice, safe, warm home and sit on his lazy boy recliner and watch the price is right on his big screen tv and eat his swanson's chicken dinner before heading off to bed without ever having to worry about half the population breaking down his door and hacking him and his loved ones and his neighbors to a painful death with a machete. but i didn't.
once i sensed there might be 5 more minutes left of the Q&A, one person began putting on their jacket and, just like in a high school history class, about 15 more took that as a sign that they were invisible and could get up to leave. so what if a man just shared with you for free the story of how he spent 100 days in hell and was now here to talk to you about it in person. so what if they clearly explained the meaning of the movie was not to go back in time to fix what happened in rwanda, but to wake up the international community to the fact that it's still happening in places like sudan and we can't make the same excuses to not intervene in an easily fixable situation. they apparently napped through the scene where "paul" thanks joaquin phoenix for shooting graphic footage because how can they not come to help us when they see this? of course, joaquin has to explain that sure... they'll see the footage and they'll say "oh my god. how awful." just before they turn back and finish their dinners. hmmm... sound familiar?
so even after the girl in charge of the Q&A said to the last wave of shuffling people that there would be just one more question, they still continued shuffling their way out the door.
i can only hope they were met at the exit by theater employees with machetes.
last night, darren and i waited 1.25 hours in line to try to get seats to see beyond the sea, but since kevin spacey was going to be there for the Q&A, we lost out with only three people left in front of us. somehow, i have a feeling not many people were going to walk out of that Q&A. and of course, USAFF is known to hand out printed death threats against people who dare to exit one of their Q&A's. so instead of the movie, we went to the meridian room for drinks. mmm... beers.