Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Football and Film Festivals - London and NYC

I admit it. I miss football since I came in New York City. And I really mean football, I stubbornly refuse to use the word soccer. Football is football and this is the word I am using to describe the sport. I am not going to change it because I become a New Yorker all of a sudden. But since I came here and I miss it, I located many sports bars that regularly broadcast UEFA Champions League and Cup games, Euro 2008 qualifying games and European National League games. Am I speaking Chinese to you? That's the magic of football. I was amazed with the number of sports bars I actually found. Last week I wanted to see the England vs Croatia qualifying game for the Euro 2008 so I visited the bar I had in mind. They asked me $20 at the door because, they said, it was shown on a pay-per-view channel. I rushed to make comments or rather to judge. You would never pay $20 to watch a football match in Europe. It's free. You only buy the drink. Anyway, I afterwards found out that this is actually the policy. If it is pay per view, you have to pay too! Today I saw the Chelsea vs Barcelona and I cheered at Chelsea's win. I supported them all the way.

From a very athletic topic, let's jump to the Film Festivals. Nothing in common, I know. It opened yesterday, the British Film Festival, sponsored by the British Film Institute and the Times. This year, again, it will be proud presenting World premiers and special screenings that many will talk about. The Last King of Scotland (the film follows the story of a Scottish doctor arriving in Africa during Idi Amin’s tyrannical rule) will open the festival and Babel will be shown at the closing Gala ( Set in Morocco, Tunisia, Mexico and Japan, Babel is concerned with the consequences of random acts and fate, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett will shine). And as every year, the festival will show European and World films, French cinematography and will "promote" new upcoming British directors. I used to go every year to see at least one film. I liked the fun atmosphere, the buzz and the glamour. The National Film Festival's venue too, it was just by the river. Well organized, well presented, and well publicised, the BFF attracts thousands.

I wouldn't say the same about the New York Film Festival supported by the Film Society of Lincoln Center that just ended. To be frank upfront, I didn't go. I had a look at the program but I didn't find any of the films particularly interesting. Not that the Festival's centerpiece this year was Almodóvar’s supernatural tale of murder, adultery and family happiness, Volver that I already have seen. And the Queen was playing in local movie theatres during the festival. The list was not so impressive or at least this is what I thought. Reality or European arrogance, I wonder. And surprisingly enough, the NY Film Festival wasn't that much advertised despite the prestigious sponsors that included Air France, HSBC and HBO Films. It was in major print media like the NY Times (one of the sponsors) and local entertainment magazines. But that was all. I went up and down Manhattan so many times, I didn't see a single program or guide in a central NY outlet. What a pity!

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