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Monday, November 9, 2009

The Sneak vs. the St. Louis International Film Festival

Posted By on Mon, Nov 9, 2009 at 6:36 PM

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This weekend, I watched the Breeders' Cup from the hospitable living room of a dear friend, pizza in one hand, PBR in the other, yelling for some very fine horses to beat the spread. That's not particularly sneaky, though sneaking food into horse races is quite enjoyable. The topic of conversation kept coming around to how different the horses, crowd, and track facilities at Santa Anita were from our own dear Fairmount Park. The horses particularly are not the rib-addled, bow-legged, nearly-asleep ones you can take home for two grand from just over the river but rather astonishingly calibrated muscle machines a hundred generations in the making. Herein lies the overarching metaphor:
Sneaking Food Into a Regular Movie : Tuesday at Fairmount Park :: Sneaking Food Into the St. Louis International Film Festival: The Breeders' Cup
The event for which all my sneaking has prepared me -- and, hopefully, better prepared you -- begins this Thursday, November 12. Here are some tips to get you into marathon shape this week.

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1. Remember your mental game. Sneaking food into movies is the best thing that ever happened to film festivals. Consider the excellent Friday the 13th trifecta of the Shorts I collection, Song From the Southern Seas and XXY at Plaza Frontenac. 5 PM to 10:45? That clearly intersects normal human eating-time. But what are your options without bringing your own food? Missing the middle film so you can grab dinner? Bringing your own food and sneaking it into the film festival spares precious time and ticket cost so you can directly contribute as much as possible to the festival itself.

2. Limber up before you go. Seriously aspiring to sneaking food into the International Film Festival requires more physical commitment than stuffing a burrito in your pocket and heading down to the multiplex. Since some shows may sell out, you have to be flexible about food temperature or take special precautions in your packaging to allow for the possibility of a delay. The safest course of action is to plan a movie menu where proper temperature is not important to enjoying the food itself.

Also, remember that this isn't just any matinee; You'll want to class it up a bit. Sneaking tote looking threadbare? Tie a large scarf low on one of the handles to give it both added bohemian flair and conceal the sharp corners of takeout boxes. The weather this week is ideal for wearing an open trenchcoat, the Cadillac of pocket-sneaking, which won't draw a second look at Webster University or the Art Museum the way a backpack might.

Rusty at sneaking? You'll want to practice your walk and patter. The best concealment of food in a theater is a cloak woven of the warp of your confidence and the weft of theater employee indifference. Your walk, then, should exude a certain comfort, a greater belonging to the theater than any other person in the crowd. Think of it as a polite but firm physical declaration of your right as an American to eat food where you damn well please.

Patter, contrastingly, should be humble and inquisitory. The SLIFF is largely staffed by festival volunteers, especially at the non-commercial theater locations. Smile at them and ask a question about the movie as you walk in, concealing the size of your bag by tucking it behind your torso or dropping it below the normal sight line. Ask them which film the next day they most want to see. This is not only a generally nice thing to do that generates good cinematic karma, it also keeps their eyes on your pleasant, smiling face rather than your bulging, fried-rice smelling pockets.

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