A small, devoted and exclusively female crowd gathered in Viking Theater on the evening of April 19 for “Franco Fest,” a James Franco inspired film festival. The festival was held on Franco’s birthday. He turned 37, and though he couldn’t join St. Olaf for the film celebration, he was there in spirit.
Put on by the St. Olaf Film Production Society, the idea behind the festival was to gather student produced Franco-esque films. Students could draw ideas from Franco’s past films, writing, art and persona. The festival screened four submissions, each portraying a vastly different interpretation of James Franco. The St. Olaf Film Production Society advertised for the festival with ambiguous posters and videos in which St. Olaf students described what James Franco meant to them.
The festival was kicked off with a brief speech by the coordinators, full of dry humor and describing Franco and his work. The audience was also shown various trailers of Franco’s past movies, including 127 Hours and Spider-Man 2.
The first submission was an interpretation of As I Lay Dying, a film directed by Franco in 2013, based on the novel by William Faulkner of the same title. The movie was filmed on an iPhone and meant to be watched on an iPhone.
The second submission was narrated in French, and was inspired by the various novels Franco has written about his A-list life. The film had an artsy flair to it, and embodied the narcissistic and renaissance qualities that Franco exhibits. Arguably, this film had the highest production value of any of the submitted films. It was artfully edited and beautifully framed.
Next was another brief film that was created as a parody of the critically acclaimed movie 127 Hours, in which Franco played the main character, Aron Ralston. It was a rather tongue in cheek, five second synopsis of the original movie.
The last film prevailed victorious after audience voting. Created by Isabella Vergun, it was titled “The Franco Diaries.” Vergun attempted to live her life living and breathing James Franco for five days, trying to understand what it feels like to be the renowned actor. One of Vergun’s tactics was recording her thoughts as she just woke up, trying to imagine what it’d be like to get into Franco’s gossamer mind.
The festival wrapped up with a video from St. Olaf Film Production Society, paying homage to some of Franco’s best films and quotes. Despite the small turnout, audible laughter following all of the films indicated that the tribute to Franco was a success.
Graphic Credit:ERIN KNADLER/MANITOU MESSENGER