Secret Film Festival @ The Del Mar

O.M.G. So I finally made it back from the Secret Film Festival (April 14th-15th) downtown. That was one of the most chaotic nights that I've ever had in Santa Cruz. I know that makes me lame, but I don't drink or smoke, so I tend not to have the wildest nights. Anyways, I took a chance and bought a ticket Thursday. I'm glad I did because when I finally made it downtown to wait in the outrageous line, they had sold out. Let me continue this story later....I'm hella tired.

Ok, I finally made it back to finish this story several weeks later (school assignments come first). I was exhausted when I finally made it back to my room to write this story. I ended up eating a sandwich and taking a nap. I fell asleep during one of the films, but I'll get to that later in the story. I saw 6 films total (excluding a 6minute short that came on before the second film).

So, I'll start from the beginning. I left to go downtown around 11:15pm thinking that I was going to be late. I finally made it there and as I approached the block where the movie theater is, I saw this crazy long line. The theater is in the middle of the block yet the line was at the end and was curving around. I asked someone what this line was for and he stated that it was for the film festival, I couldn't believe it. I took my place in line and just waited. More people lined up behind me and I even heard that a guy in the group behind me couldn't get a ticket because they were sold out. Anyways, I figured that we waited a good 10-15min then the line started to move. When I finally reached the door, there was a girl collecting the tickets and leaving us with the stub. Finally, I was in and there were people all over some waiting in the lobby (not sure why, I guess for friends) and some were at the concession stand. I decided to skip all of that and head into the main theater where everyone would be seeing the first film of the night. This was the moment that I wished that I had arrived earlier because all of the good seats were taken, I ended up sitting in the third row on the right side of the room. As the night we on, I actually didn't mind because no one want those seats and I got the chance to sit alone and enjoy them the whole night. Anyways, as we all settled in, the host of the night came to the front and told us how the night would work. The instructions were that we all would watch the first film together and then after that we would be given two options for films 2-5 and then the rest of us that stuck it out through the night would all watch the last (6th) film together in the main (and biggest) room. Also, we wouldn't get the title of the films, only vague clues as to what it was about and then we had to decide which was more appealing.

So I don't remember what the clue was for the first film, but it turned out to be "God Bless America." It was one of those films that really gave you the honest truth on what is wrong with society. I'm going to try to give you my take on the movie's plot without Wikipedia's help lol. So there is an older man named Frank and he lives in an apartment with awful neighbors. Generally it's like his life is going to sh*t, in addition to his d-bag neighbor, he is divorced, his daughter is a brat, and in his opinion, the society around him is going to hell. With the notion that he is close to death, Frank goes on a killing spree with a young accomplice. There are a couple of twists here and there with a somewhat great and expected ending. I don't want to give you the full story, so I left out some of the details along with the ending. The point being that if you have a critical eye towards the world we live in or want to gain one then I highly recommend this film, I give it an A+.

After that film was over, the host came to give us the clues for the next film, it went something like "The film upstairs is a spanish horror film that centers on global warming filmed in the style of Rosemary's Baby" (I think that's what he said) "and the film downstairs is about people that love secret film festivals, also before the movie there is a short film that is 6minutes long, the movie upstairs starts 5minutes late so you can watch the short then head upstairs if you want." I wasn't in the mood for a foreign film which ended up being "Penumbra," so I stayed downstairs. The short film was about Pac-man, it was so awesome, I can't remember the title but lucky for me, I remembered the website displayed at the end ( and the film is on there. I decided to embed it below.

After that was over, then the feature length film started and it turned out to be "Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope." As you can tell from the title, it was an excellent movie. It was a documentary style movie that followed several individuals as they placed some of their hopes on what would happen at that year's Comic Con. These individuals were a comic distributor that hoped to find a buyer for his ultra rare comics as well as make a lot of money selling his other comics; two different guys that both had the hope to secure a job as an artist with one of the many comic companies that would be at the show; a woman that made (really nice bad-a*s) costumes in order to win the showcase at comic con and get a job making costumes; and a guy that hoped to propose to his girlfriend that he had met a year earlier at last year's Comic-Con. Also there was a mini-storyline about a guy that hoped to track down a figurine for his collection at Comic-Con. This movie gave a great explanation on the background and history of Comic-Con up until this point. Many of the story lines have good endings while others have a so-so ending. This was also another great film that I highly recommend if Comic-Con and all that surrounds it is something that interests you, I give this film an A.

After this is over, everyone comes from upstairs back to the main room, so that the clues for the next film can be revealed. They were something like “the film upstairs is a trippy willy wonka, Stanley Kubrick-esque film that is based on science fiction yet takes place in the 80’s” and “the movie downstairs will be a Cuban version of Shaun of the Dead.” I chose to go upstairs and I ended up being very disappointed with that choice. The film I saw was “Beyond the Black Rainbow” and I am not exaggerating when I say that it was awful. And the film downstairs turned out to be “Juan De Los Muertos (translated into Juan of the Dead)”, I really wish I saw that one (the trailer makes it look awesome). Anyways back to the Rainbow disaster (I will probably ruin or make you curious about this film with the following paragraph), so there we go a theater room full of people waiting to be blown away and it never happened. The film started out slow like most movies tend to do, but the thing is that it never sped up. It was a slow, very weird film about an alien therapist and this girl that is locked in this mental institution of some sort and she seems to be the key to some major event. Anyways, in the middle there is this weird sequence that is supposed to be the back story of what’s going on but it plays out as a bad interpretive student film. Also in the film we find out that the girl has some kind of power, nevertheless she escapes. This part of the movie was funny because the girl was being hella slow in going out this open window and this guy in the theater hells out “Jesus f*cking Christ” lol, that shows how frustratingly slow this film was. A few people left throughout the film, but 90% of us stayed because we were waiting for something to happen and it never did. Anyways the alien guy takes off his wig, contacts, and puts on this full body leather suit. The scene when his wife sees him in this getup was also funny, that is before he killed her. Well he goes back to get the girl and she’s gone, he tracks her down in the woods and dies in the most f*cked up and quick way (there was no level of satisfaction for the audience). The girl ends up going about her way without any explanation as to what happened. That pretty much sums up the whole film, I have to say that it was so bad that it was funny, I give this film a D-, and never in my life will I watch it again.
So, I walk back downstairs, to hear the clues for the next film and they went something like “upstairs will be a movie about hitmen…(I can’t remember the rest)” and “downstairs is a Swedish film and it’s a musical.” I ended up staying downstairs for the Swedish film, but I wish I would have chosen the other one which I believe ended up being “Kill List” and downstairs I saw “Sound of Noise.” This film was actually very nice and the music in the film was good too. This is the film that I ended up falling asleep on, you have to cut me some slack, it was 6am. I’ll try to piece together what I saw into what I thought the film was about. I think the central plot was about a detective that came from a very musical family yet he, himself, was tone deaf. He was tasked with taking down this group of drummers that was planning several musical disruptions around the city. As a result of being tone deaf, he really couldn’t stand music and enjoyed silence, at the some point towards the end of the film; he goes deaf and is actually happier. I’m sorry if that ended up being a spoiler for you. Overall it was a nice film, but because I missed a part of it, I can only give it a B, but I still recommend it for those who like foreign musical films.

So, finally this festival is winding down, two more to go. The host once again comes to the front and tells us the clues. I don’t remember what he said about the film I saw, but he said upstairs would be either “Kill List” again or “Beyond the Black Rainbow.” When our host said “…Beyond the Black Rainbow,” some guy yelled out “Never AGAIN!!” That was so funny. So they decided they would re-show “Kill List” upstairs and downstairs ended up being “The Raid: Redemption” and this was the right choice. This film is a foreign film (Indonesian, I believe) and the simple plot would be that it is about a police raid on a drug lord’s compound. Throughout the film there are kick a*s fight scenes and lots of killing. There are a few underlying motives for a couple of characters in the film. I don’t want to spoil this one because I liked it so much. I highly recommend it and I give it an A+.
After this film, we had to go to the concession stand, show our ticket stub to get a raffle ticket because after the last film, they were going to raffle off 10 prizes. I get my ticket and wait for what the last film will be. I don’t remember the clue for this one either, but it turned out to be “Goon.” I was so freaking excited, before attending this festival, I saw that this film was coming out soon and I was trying to decide if I wanted to see it, at that moment I didn’t have to fret over it because I was going to see it. I was not disappointed at all, this film is awesome and I’m not even a hockey fan and I loved it. This film stars Sean William Scott as a well-built man that actually is a bit insecure with himself and what he does in life (which is working security at a bar). After a hockey player actually climbs in the stands to fight him and he knocks the player out, Williams’ character Doug suddenly finds himself as a star fighter for a hockey team. I don’t want to spoil the rest, but I will say that at the end I found out that it’s based on the life of Doug “The Hammer” Smith, who was a hockey player from the early 90’s. I highly recommend this film, it is really good, and I also give this film an A+.

I don’t think that’s bad, 6 films for $13 dollars, and I only saw one bad one out of the bunch. I didn’t end up winning any of the prizes that was given away after the show. When I finally got out of there, it was so bright outside (past 12noon). I actually spent the whole night in a movie theater, past 12am to a bit past 12noon, and had a great time. I’m so upset that this year was the first time I heard about it and the first time that I’ve gone to the Secret Film Festival at the Del Mar. I guess I should explain the name; it’s called the secret film festival because the titles of the movies were secret and these were films that hadn’t premiered in the theaters in Santa Cruz yet. Anyways, I got a sandwich from subway, got on the bus and went back to campus and you know the rest. I know this is a super long story, but I thought I would share one of my unique experiences. I hope I can make it back to another festival in the future.
TheWaysOfShelly TheWaysOfShelly
26-30, F
1 Response May 6, 2012

Thanks for sharing, it was a quick read so not really that long. Glad you had fun.