7.45 on a Wednesday night, and we're both thinking we've made a big mistake. We're at the opening of a short festival of cortometraggi (short films) at the Teatrino Grassi. A sound installation called Godzilla is playing. Loudly. Very loudly. It sounds like the great Thunder Lizard himself is in the room. I've just spend ten minutes queuing up to spend 7 euros on a beer and a miniature glass of prosecco. There is, God help us, a DJ. In short, we're not having a good time. The temptation is to give this up as a bad job and just go home for dinner.
And that would have been a great mistake, because much of what follows is an absolute delight. A typical evening is built around a 45 minute screening, followed by a break, followed by another screening...and so on, and so on until around midnight. For four nights.
At the end of the first part we adjourn to our local bar, Da Fiore, where you can eat and drink well and get change from twenty euros. Then back for the second screening. Then we have another 45 minutes free. We could go home for a glass of wine at this point but decide just to head back to Da Fiore for a brace of spritzes.
It reminds us of being back in Edinburgh and rushing from Fringe venue to Fringe venue; grabbing a bite to eat and a drink with whatever short amount of time might be available to us.
As to the work itself, some of it is utterly brilliant, some is incomprehensible, and a few are just plain rubbish. The great thing about a festival of short films is that if you don't like one you only have to wait ten minutes at most until the next comes along. And we've see an extraordinarily wide body of work : a high-camp music video that references Visconti's Death in Venice; a series of competition entries for the Italian blood donation service (more interesting than you might imagine); a 30 minute piece about lesbian unicorns (less interesting than you might imagine); a British film in which an unsympathetic DHSS worker is executed with a nail gun; and, best of all, a short piece in which a bespectacled man in a cardigan sings the Habanera from Carmen as the scene behind him changes from a domestic interior to a leather bar. (It was great. No, really.)
There's been the occasional happy hour and snacks, so I'm even feeling less grumpy about the original 3.50 prosecco. I just wish they'd turn down that bloody Godzilla thing before, during and after every event.