I'm sitting in my really very comfortable seat in the middle of the cinema, my eyes closed, listening to the conversations around me. One woman along to my right is telling her friends about something that happened at work earlier: "o sen han ... o hon ba nä-äää ..." (And then he ... and she just nä-äää ... - there's no possible translation for "nä-äää") A man behind me and up to my left is showing off about Lindsay Anderson (the subject of the film we're about to see). I think he's trying to impress his date. He's certainly impressing me. There is a susurrus of pleasant expectation, people shrugging off their coats (it's windy cold outside), shifting in their seats to see if there's anyone they know in the audience, fiddling with their mobile phones (switching them off, I hope), passing round the popcorn. The theatre isn't full, but there's a fair number of us now. And so an introduction from the usher – “Welcome to the 31st Gothenburg Film Festival” and, we're off ...

I've been attending the Film Festival here in Gothenburg on and off for 20 years. My first festival must have been 1987. That was when I came down with chicken pox. For my wife and I, there's a jinx on it. Every year, it seems, one of us (or both) will come down with some dreaded lurgi and be unable to see all the films we've paid for. That's life, I suppose. There have been disease-free Festivals, or at least, I think there have, but I can't be sure that's not just wishful thinking. I know last year I had a flu’ that didn’t stop me from seeing Tsotsi, although I was running such a temperature I wasn’t sure I was right in thinking it a very good film till I heard it had been nominated for an Oscar. Well, we'll see what happens this year. In the meantime, the festival has started and for me it was with Never Apologize: A Personal Visit with Lindsay Anderson at 7.45 p.m. in Bergakungen 5.
It's fashionable to whine about Bergakungen ('The King of the Mountain'), our new cinema complex here. You know: it's soulless, there's so much concrete, it's so ugly, and so on. But the screens are big, the individual theatres are spacious, the projection equipment is excellent, the sound reproduction can be good when they are not trying to blow your eardrums out with some National Ultimate Hard Pirate Transformer blockbuster, the seats are comfortable and there's a fair bit of leg room. It's not Cinema Paradiso but it's a damn sight better than either of the cinema complexes it has replaced, and better than most of the other screens around town where the Festival is showing (excepting the Festival flagship Draken, of course).
I can't see many films this Festival. Apart from the anticipated diseased collapse, I'm teaching all week up in Falköping. My cineastical experiences are going to have to be confined to the weekends. I also have to fit them in around the usual mundane activities of washing, ironing and (this weekend) getting a haircut. (Let’s not even think about all the marking I have to do.) Still, I'm planning to try to blog my Festival adventures here and to review the films I'm seeing on the IMDb.
(Is ‘cineastical’ even a word? I’m not the only one too think it should be, but there’re precious few of us. Only 30 odd hits on Google.)