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Is that Seat Taken?
by Karen Pecota

The special screenings for the press are shown in three locations in close proximity: two conference rooms in a hotel set up as make-shift theaters and one large normal theater. I prefer to see as many films as I can in the normal theater because I am short and seating is more conducive if someone large sits in from of me. In the make-shift theaters it is harder to nab that perfect chair, in spite of an early arrival. If a rather large male ends up sitting in front of me then for the duration of the film I expend so much energy tossing my head back and forth struggling to see around their shoulders that eventually my patience runs thin and I am ready for the film to end. I suffer and so does my opinion of the film, unfortunately!

I arrived a little early to a film I figured would be full in the normal theater. I was delighted to find my favorite section open. My short legs lunged to secure my spot and I plopped my backpack on the vacant chair next to me as I looked around for a familiar face. I peeled off hat, scarf, gloves, and coat then nestled into the cushioned theater chair. A few minutes later, the film began to roll and darkness filled the room. Engrossed in the opening credits and unaware of late comers, I suddenly hear a sweet female voice whispering “Is That Seat Taken?” My head made a nod implying, “No”, and I quickly gathered all my junk off the chair so she could sit down. We exchanged silent cordial greetings but then looked mesmerized toward the silver screen for the next 90 minutes—though not without a few spontaneous outbreaks. At the film’s end we officially introduced ourselves and exchanged our impressions. It was a delightful conversation. Marti’s insight was interesting as was her gracious manners and kind spirit. I was soon introduced to her good friend and film colleague, Rhea, who appeared to be just as nice. She had been pre-occupied earlier with the theater management while looking for her lost glove--a regular occurrence among festival attendees.

Throughout the week we hooked up at a few more films and also became better acquainted. Of course, we focused on the films we had seen since our last encounter and enjoyed each others critique. Meeting Marti and Rhea was a surprise discovery in my festival week. A breath of fresh mountain air! We discovered that we have a lot in common which added to the delightful en-counter. Their time was often split between work and the festival activities because they were in production with filming a documentary. As a result, it was fascinating for me to track the latest news and developments that would happen daily. I was fortunate that they took a little time out to join the festival films this year. It was a privilege to meet them! Rhea’s comment to our meeting is exactly the sentiment to which Marti and I agree, “You never know when you will meet a kindred spirit and I think we all enjoyed each other’s company”. Here! Here! To new friends and kindred spirits!