Citizen Jane Film Festival was a joy from beginning to end, with some sweet surprises and a variety of films that should have suited virtually every taste and persuasion. And, of course, there was Winter’s Bone, my personal favorite and the festival closer. Ticket sales for Winter’s Bone, even though this summer it had enjoyed the longest or second-longest run of any film ever shown at the Ragtag, outsold the venue so the film had to be moved to the large auditorium at Stevens College, just down the street.
Thanks to the generosity of Citizen Jane and the Regency Hotel, I had the privilege of staying from Thursday night until Monday morning, and so caught not only the festival but a good taste of downtown Columbia, a city that has charmed me since my first visit, sometime in the early sixties. There was time for shopping at Cool Stuff, Lakota Coffee and the Peace Nook, and lunch at the Pasta Factory (don’t miss their hand-built tortellini), but was too busy chasing down the next movie to schedule dinner at Teller’s. Next time, for sure.
Now I don’t know who to praise first, for everyone was so generous with their time and energy. The festival staff and organizers worked so well together it’s hard to believe this festival is only in its third year. Volunteers were enthusiastic and kind. The staff at the Ragtag was professional and conscientious. And the food was splendid. If you’ve missed this little Hitt Street treasure in earlier trips to Columbia, you have truly been deprived. The Ragtag has two theaters, one small and one smaller, but both good houses. Both are accessed through the Uprise Bakery, coffeehouse and bar. Possibly there are better breads and breakfasts (try the egg and red pepper croissant), but if so I have not encountered them. Brought home a loaf of cranberry pecan and one called Ancient Grains that makes the best toast in the known universe.(Sorry. I’ve told myself a million times not to exaggerate) So I’ll summarize. Go eat there. And catch a movie. And if there’s no time, grab a DVD-to-go next door at Ninth Street Video.
Back to the festival. I was thrilled to finally get to see the much-talked-about Tiny Furniture, the festival’s opener. It was all the talk in Austin at SXSW , but I was trying to be everywhere at once, and couldn’t fit it in. This time it was the workshop with Christine Vachon I missed.
Other highlights were a 22-minute segment of the work-in-progress documentary, Cooked, being assembled by Judith Helfand, and another doc featuring the quirky life of performance artist Colette Urban, called “Pretend Not to See Me.” Hard to do when she appeared on stage in a giant fluffy bird suit, emitted a hair-raising screech and stomped off on her giant bird feet.
All in all, a delightful weekend. I’ll be back next year, maybe as a volunteer.