Day 5 (April 25th) : Song & Farewell & Afterthought

 The last day of Ebertfest finally came, but it was still happy to be get together with others. The last movie of the festival, “Song Sung Blue”, is the documentary about the human spirit. Mike and Claire Sardina, as Lightening and Thunder, had been wonderful performers on the stages. Maybe their acts were not original(Mike sang Neil Diamond songs, and Claire did the songs of Patsy Cline, Blondies, and ABBA), but they were popular with people in Milwaukee and you can see why from their performances in video footage. Even if you don’t have much interest in these songs, they would draw your attentions with the joy of singing. And they were good singers.

 Their love and dream and family went through many hardships. The same kind of accident incredulously happened twice at the same place. Their career was damaged because of that, and we observed the strains in the family. Director Greg Kohs shot his movie(This is his first feature-length documentary) for eight years and he seemed to become unseen family member/observer during the process. When Claire and her son have a intense quarrel, they are not conscious of the camera watching them. 100% objectivity is impossible, but a good documentary can approach close to that with the camera turned into the part of daily lives. 

(From the Left) Chaz, Omer, Unidentified Panelist, Claire, Greg Kohs, and Omer

 Mike and Claire’s Love prevailed over unforseen incidents. The movie has a moving scene with Eddie Vedder, and there are many reasons you will admire these strong-willed people in the movie. When Claire appeared on the stage after the showing, she gave the audience memorable moments with two Patsy Cline songs and one ABBA song. I don’t know much about Patsy Cline except her fame, but Claire made my ears prick up. And with ABBA, she is still Thunder despite her age.

  The festival was over, and I lost my way again and nearly failed to say goodbye to my friends. This time, I was rescued by Howie Movshovitz, a good friend of Roger(He advised me not to hesitate about asking someone a favor in America). He had a cell phone, and I had Omer’s calling card. And then soon I came across Michael and Wael and everything became all right again – the Farewell meeting at Steak ‘N Shake. 

 Everyone was there. Ali had to leave for the plane, and Grace came there because her plane was delayed. Vincent was there, again. And Roger and Chaz and Millie came. The time flied fast as before while we talked with or listened to others. Roger and Chaz had to leave, and so did Grace. At PM 6:30, I said goodbyes to people I was honored to meet.

(From the left) Omer, Wael, Omar, Michael, Me, and Gerardo & Monica

 PM 7:00. I was depressed at Amtrak Station. That emotional state went all the way through Chicago, Des Plaines, O’Hare, Narita, Inchon, Seoul, Jeonju, and Daejeon. I tried to calm myself with “The Book of Eli”, “Kick-Ass”(a bad choice), “Leap Year”, and “Iron Man 2” at the theater. But I failed and could not sleep much.

  Bernard Herrmann told his friend that finishing his work on Brian DePalma’s “Obsession” was one of the most difficult moments in his life. “After so many weeks those two characters – Cliff Robertson and Genevieve Bujold – were no longer celluloid fantasies but real people. It was like saying goodbye to two of my closest friends.”

 With Chicago, my internet friends are no longer digits on Internet now. They are as real as the citizens of Chicago. I really met them and knew a bit about them. Maybe I don’t know all about them, we share common interest and have a good time together. I became relaxed and I began to call them by the first names. That’s enough for categorizing them as real friends, even though we will communicate with each other in the e-world for a while just like before.

 People around me mostly don’t care much about what I experienced. Maybe they’re interested in Chicago, but they don’t have any interest on Ebertfest. It’s just frivolous thing to them. I fear that this will be my first and last visit to Urbana-Champaign. I worry about how I can preserve what I love from the expectations of others. All I know is, I will have to go through some hard time for living in my reality. I’m ready for that, with the moratorium on my bloging. 

 Like the hero of “Synecdoche, New York”, I have had lots of regrets and lost opportunities and I will. Ebertfrest is no exception. I should have photographed more people, including Roger’s driver(or helper) at our last meeting. I should have been more available with a cell phone or a blackberry. I should have talked with Roger as much as other far-flung correspondents. I should have presented myself more articulate in front of Bordwell and other elders passionate about movies….. It’s endless, while the happiness is discarded and stored in the another section of my brain. The memories inevitably will begin to fade out, one way or the other.

  I feel better now. The writing can be a good alternative therapy to some, and I think I’m one of them. I have written this and the other post about Chicago in last three days. I can sleep better now and I can reminisce our memories without pain or heartburn now and I can ease my intestine now. Maybe my dream and hope is broken or never realized, but I will go on and I will sometimes say to myself something like what Melvin says in “Melvin and Howard.”
 “Yeah, I’ve known that since I first found that will. I mean, do you think Melvin Dummar is going to get $156 millions or anything like it? Nah. I’m not going see that money. That’s all right. ‘Cause you know what happened? Howard Hughes sang Melvin Dummar’s song. That’s what happened. He sang it. He was funny. Yeah, He sang it. “Santa’s Souped-up Sleigh”.”

 My version
 “My life is a mess, but I met people I have admired for a long time in person thanks to my generous and affluent parents. I had a bad luck and screwed lots of things during these days. Roger also had a bad luck. Because of them, I contacted him and he answered me and we met each other. Roger and his gangs liked me and they were helpful to me like lucky charms(whenever I got lost and they were needed, I always came across them) and I watched the movies with them for 5 days! And Roger liked my photo! Isn’t it a wonderful life for me, even if it has been full of spoilt things? With these, that’s lucky enough for me and I can go on.”

 Jeonju International Film Festival began in last week. Today, they will show the complete version of “Metropolis” tonight and I bought the ticket at the 11th hour. Even without the Alloy Orchestra, I’m sure that will be quite special.

 Roger, Chaz, Millie, Carol, Mary Susan, Nate, Omer, Omar, Michael, Randy, Tom, Gerardo & Monica, Grace, Ali, Jim, Jackson, Betsy, Blake, Vincent, and other people I unintentionally forgot to mention…. thank you. I still don’t know what to say.

(Photo courtesy of Grace Wang)

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4 Responses to Day 5 (April 25th) : Song & Farewell & Afterthought

  1. Grace says:

    Dear SeongYong,

    I loved reading your account of Ebertfest and your trip to USA. Honestly, I started at the beginning and couldn’t stop until I got to the end. You are a brutally honest writer, perhaps because English is your second language, perhaps because you are such a thoughtful person yourself, I don’t know for sure, but like “Departures,” I find a genuine affection and mingling between sadness and humor that kept me engaged and laughing all the way till the end. For many of us, writing is the truest outlet of our emotions possible. I see it as a gift, not a handicap.

    You should keep on writing. Don’t stop, because people will be reading.

    Your friend, Grace

  2. Roger Ebert says:

    Dear Seongyong,

    You are a masterful writer. Your prose moves with eloquence and grace. You feel insecure about your English, but you should be proud you speak so fluently. And anyone who can write like this will speak like this with some practice, and you must know that very, very few English speakers can write this well.

    Thank you,

    • kaist455 says:

      Thank you for the kind comment. Even the time when I can write less than expected comes, I will do what I can do whenever I get the chance.

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