What to choose??? What to choose???
There was the Saturday 5 July 2003 Cinemuerte midnight double bill of "Graveyard" and "Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat". Six days earlier I was at a military launch base, the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, in northern Russia, launching Canada's first space telescope aboard a former nuclear missile. I had touched down in Vancouver only two nights before, and could not pass up the chance to share with my grad student (and horror movie enthusiast) Chris the visceral vision of Herschell Gordon Lewis. Little did I know that the menu would include an on-screen appearance by Joe Shithead Keithley of DOA, and a live appearance by local (and legendary) heavy metal icon, Jon Mikl Thor. Thor judged a raw sausage eating contest which I entered, and which Ibelieved I had won, but I turned out to be one missing link in the evolutionary chain short of victory.
Or how about Friday 29 August 2008, when director Erik Nelson screened his doc about Harlan Ellison, "Dreams With Sharp Teeth"? As the lights came up after the closing credits, Nelson walked to the podium for the Q&A. But he had his cell phone in his hand, and the Q&A was not to be with the director, but with the star. Nelson had phoned Ellison at his home in LA, while he was watching a baseball game. I and a few other audience members got to come forward and chat with Harlan Ellison. One of my questions: "Is there anything in your life so far that you haven't done, tasted, smelled, touched, seen or heard that you'd regret if you missed before you died?" Ellison didn't really answer my question but described the surgery he had undergone earlier that week, in such a level of detail and style that I was convinced he was channeling the spirits of Lovecraft, Poe, Cronenberg and Dr. Phil. Later, he provided me with a list of names of people he'd like to kill. (None were in the audience, fortunately.) For a few moments on that summer evening, Vancouver was the City on the Edge of Forever.
Or the Crispen Hellion Glover Big Slide Shows and screenings of the first two films in his planned trilogy, on the weekend of 14 - 16 January 2011? Was it the snail voiced by Fairuza Balk in "What Is It?"? Was it the moments in "It Is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE!" when the star (and screenwriter... and cerebral palsy sufferer) was living out his lurid fantasies on screen in a mash-up of David Lynch meets a rerun of "Baretta"? Or those same moments when the only reason I didn't walk out was because it was a real person enacting his fantasies only weeks before his death. Or my engaged public debate with Glover that "Back To The Future" wasn't really a 'message' film, and if it was, the message isn't that materialism and affluence are the rewards for inventing a time machine. (Although making a time machine out of a Delorean does seem a bit materialistic, I admit.)
Or was it the time I saw scrolling across the Cinematheque electronic sign the name "Rainer Werner Fassbinder" and the title of a film I'd never seen before that was going to screen in ten minutes, so I walked in and entered "World On A Wire"? Or being introduced to "L'enfer d'Henri-Georges Clouzot" (in a documentary by Serge Bromberg), which made me feel like I had entered a parallel world where I had seen a cinematic masterwork that didn't quite exist in my version of the universe?
Or maybe when I moved to Vancouver in the early 90's and first found the Cinematheque? I wrote the following about Videomatica, but it applies equally well to the Pacific Cinematheque...
Arriving in Vancouver, having grown up in Ontario, having lived in Toronto and Montreal, and having traveled around the world, I confess I missed here the richnesses of culture and history I found elsewhere. But one thing I found and appreciated immediately in Vancouver was the strong appreciation of cinema, which meant places where people could see and exchange ideas about thought-provoking film. Many newcomers are seduced by Vancouver's nature, I was instead surprised that I'd found a cinephile's paradise in the place I would have least expected it.
Sincerely, and gratefully,
Dr. Jaymie Matthews
Astronomy Undergraduate Advisor
Astronomy Colloquium Chair
Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of British Columbia