The Salem Film Festival probably has the second biggest draw to Salem aside from the Psychic Fair in October. This year will be my third time volunteering for the festival and it will be the ninth year of the festival’s run in Salem, Massachusetts.
Every year, the festival kicks off with the volunteers gathering at the Cinema Salem to receive their two free movie passes and their volunteer shirt. Also, we get to see the sketches made by local Salem filmmakers. I wrote something about this in my other blog and this year there were more sketches featuring local businesses and people who have been an important part of our community. The sketches were both informative and heartbreaking as they told the stories of people who are no longer with us, as well as people struggling with a loved one’s addiction.
For me, the challenge was deciding which movies I wanted to see. It’s best to trade your passes in as soon as possible, since some of the documentaries sell out fast. Last year, for example, The Optimists had such a huge draw that some people were placed on a wait list. And this year, for me at least, the challenge came from the fact that there were so many options that really caught my attention.
My first year, it was Letters to Bill. Last year, it was the Carrol Spinney story. But this year there was a documentary about an interactive “robot” that helps Alzheimer’s patients, a cat that wanders the streets of Israel, a power planet, a murder investigation, a man who made a video game to cope with his son’s terminal cancer.
Unfortunately, I chose too late without looking closely at the schedule. My plan was to choose movies where the film makers were going to be in attendance. And to that end, the first documentary I wanted to see was Thank You For Playing. Alas, when I saw my schedule, I learned that the show time was during my shift. And since my shift is what earned me the two free passes, I can’t very well say, “Sorry, I can’t make it for the volunteer shift that earned me this pass that is worth over a hundred dollars,” because that would pretty much kill my chances of volunteering next year. The Film Festival is one of the few consistencies I’ve had in my life and this tiny little oversight is not worth the years to come. But fear not, because I still have one other documentary to see. This one is about the murder investigation that I mentioned. I will definitely be talking to the filmmaker on that day, and hopefully I can get a picture with him.