MSPIFF does the numbers

20090911_lastryan.jpg Ryan Oestreich looked remarkably calm the other day, nestled behind his desk in the corner of the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival. He’s the festival co-ordinator, and for the moment he’s a happy guy.

A huge board festooned with Post-it notes hung nearby. It’s the festival schedule, and a very full schedule at that.

“Two hundred and forty, 250 films,” Oestreich said. “Last year we were at 170, so this is a big jump. A really big jump. But we have three weeks.”

There are flicks coming in from all over the world, and Oestrich points out that almost all of them will get two screenings, and some three. When asked about possible strategies for wading through the offerings he suggests going with what you love, to see where it takes you, at least on the MSPIFF schedule.

“Basically find a film that you like,” he said, “And search by like a title, or a director, or a theme that fits that.”

He also suggests checking out movies where the people involved will be there to present their work.

“We have not a few, but 40 to 60 film makers,” he said. “Lots, I think 20 to 25, just Minnesota film makers.”

When asked why he looks so remarkably calm, he launches into a discussion of what he calls ‘the festival high.’ He says he only usually notices it when it’s gone.

“You only know you have it, when you don’t have it,” he said. “So two days after the festival you realize you are not feeling as much stimulation, you’re just kind of like, moping around. And you think to yourself ‘why is this happening?’ And you realize ‘Oh, it’s because I’m not stressed out, I’m not seeing a million movies, and I’m not running around trying to schedule all these things. And that’s because of the festival, and it’s very strange.”

Oestreich describes it as an unquantified fact about film festivals. He smiles and sits back in his seat. We’ll have to check in with him in a few days, after tomorrow nights opening festivities if he still doesn’t know if he has it.

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