11,000 Minutes

How do you measure a film festival? Frame by frame.

That's a lot of new technology. What do the folks who keep the show running, the film projectionists, think about film festivals? In a computer-driven field, where opportunities for the click-and-rewind technicians are decreasing, at least it's work, right? Well, maybe not. "Projectionists usually run away because it means they'll have filmmakers in their booths," he says. "Some of the filmmakers are a pain in the ass. They're like rap musicians. They want the volume turned way up."

Dan Milosz, a real live projectionist who has been in the business since 1974 and who, with his Lantana-based company, Cinema Sight and Sound, now spends his hours setting up projection systems for megaplexes throughout the United States and Europe, agrees.

"Yeah, it gets a little bit hairy. They get really uptight," Milosz says of filmmakers in the booth. There's the matter of different projector lenses that can crop out frames in ways auteurs just hate or the nonstandardized sound levels -- all of which drive back-seat-driving future Tarantinos crazy.

Breakfast on Pluto
Breakfast on Pluto
What's Bugging Seth
What's Bugging Seth

Mostly, Milosz says, projectionists work nowadays at older theaters, the romantic throwbacks with just one big screen. There aren't too many of them anymore. Of course, when Milosz started his career in the '70s, it was different. "Back then, it took a single person to run the film. But with equipment being automated, there are fewer and fewer projectionists."

Milosz started his career during a critical transition period for the commercial film industry, as it was evolving from running two projectors -- which required a projectionist to stay in the room to change reels -- to adopting the technological innovation known ominously as "the platter." The platter contains an entire film on a single reel sent directly from a film distributor and, once connected to a projector by anyone with a tiny bit of training, leaves nothing else to do for the duration of the film. If you can operate your car's cassette player, it's a safe bet you're ready for a career with Regal Cinemas running ten movies at a time.

Compare that with Milosz's career in the early 1970s, when he trained for several years as an apprentice. "Back when you had two projectors to run, it was almost like being a prisoner in the room," he says. "You weren't really allowed to leave the booth. Guys would set them up like living quarters. They spent 12 hours there at a time."

Some of us like to think that up there behind us in the projection booth is somebody like Tyler Durden (the Brad Pitt character in The Fight Club) planning the next grappling exhibition while splicing porno into the family film. Most likely, there's nobody there, just a computer run by a kid. What does this mean when considering the film festival? Not too much. But it's cool to know that somewhere out there, real projectionists may be camped out.


For FLIFF's schedules and locations, go to www.fliff.com. In case you're interested in some of the extra-special events, here's a short list:

Friday, October 14: The Opening Night Film and Party. Screening of The Matador at Cinema Paradiso with a party at the Las Olas Art Center.

Saturday, October 15: Luna Fest. Ten shorts circling the female zone in a benefit for the nonprofit Cure Breast Cancer.

Monday and Tuesday, October 17 and 18: The Arthur Penn Film Tribute. Penn's films include Bonnie and Clyde and Little Big Man.

Monday, October 31: The First Annual Boo-Tacular on Las Olas Boulevard, with Casper and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Once again, there's that transgender theme.

Sunday, November 6: The Chairman's Cruise. Mingle with filmmakers trapped for your pleasure on a three-hour cruise. A three-hour cruise.

Wednesday, November 9: The Fame Party. A tribute to singer Irene Cara. It seems that fame is going to live forever.

Friday, November 11: The FLIFF Beach Party. Marriott Harbor Beach Hotel.

Saturday, November 12: The Closing Night Film. Screening of Berkeley. Despite the "closing night" scheduled for November 12, FLIFF will continue to burn the candle at both ends until November 20.

"The day after the festival is my favorite day of the year," FLIFF President Gregory Von Hausch says. "It goes down from there."

New Times reviewers will give you the scoop, week by week, on FLIFF highlights. Following are reviews of two features from the festival's first week:

The Matador

What's an unemployed former superspy to do? Faced with a midlife career change, suave Pierce Brosnan seems to have chosen wry self-mockery, reinventing himself as a scruffy, fallen James Bond surrogate, sometimes still furnished with a license to kill and a certain gift for cool but far more likely now to stop shaving for three days, have tawdry encounters with teenaged girls, and get sloppy on margaritas at the hotel bar.

With a black comedy of mixed blessings called The Matador, written and directed by newcomer Richard Shepard, Brosnan continues his period of adjustment. In The Thomas Crown Affair and last year's jewel-heist trifle After the Sunset, the actor toyed with the burden of having been Bond. Here he savages it. As the ironically ill-named Julian Noble, he's a globetrotting hit man for unspecified corporate interests -- a "facilitator of fatalities," as he grandly puts it -- beset by neuroses and given to telling outrageous lies in cascades of filthy language. Oh, the guy's pretty good at his job. Even with a screaming hangover, he's got a sharpshooter's eye and a steady trigger finger. But his intermittent loss of nerve is a sorry thing to behold. "I'm a wreck," the anti-Bond laments. "I'm a parody."

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