A Guide to the Best Film Fest Etiquette

The 13th annual Calgary Underground Film Festival is in full swing, meaning there are some seriously strong movies taking over Calgary’s resilient art house theatre the Globe Cinema.
Whether you’re attending or not, there are still some universal rules that apply to going to the movies — and they extend far past the standard “put your cell phone on silent.” To help you make sure your trip to the theatre is comfortable for both you and those around you, we’ve created a handy guide to film fest etiquette.


Sure, at a film festival there’s a chance that you might be getting out of one late screening and rushing to the other, but that’s basically the only valid excuse to ever be late. Otherwise, you should always give yourself more time than usual to deal with tickets, find a seat and get settled in. For one thing, film festivals have a tendency to sell out real quick — and a movie you thought was obscure might have a way bigger audience than you anticipated. Secondly, the bulk of people attending film festivals are artsy types who generally tend to be a little spacey — you don’t want to get caught up in a swarm of intellectuals discussing the director’s work in the lobby.


Even if Danny Tanner himself doesn’t show up, it’s most likely going to be an incredibly full house. Film festivals often bring in the best and brightest new movies, so people of all walks are going to be crammed into theatres that don’t necessarily sell out on every other night of the week. That means you shouldn’t put down jackets for your seven friends who might not even show up, and you should certainly move over a seat or two to acommodate others if that’s what it boils down to. Bottom line is that everyone’s there to watch a movie together, and you’re all responsible for making that shared experience as comfortable as possible.


You know what else helps make for a wonderful moviegoing experience? If you shut up. Seriously, don’t make a sound. Don’t ask your friend what’s going on in the movie, even if you don’t get it (and chances are, none of us get it half the time with these brainy indie flicks). Don’t repeat funny lines out loud. Don’t point out that the Danish lead actor looks like Jeff from work. Simply put: Do. Not. Talk.
But it doesn’t stop with not talking, either — you should also try to keep your other bodily functions on the downlow. Nothing ruins the quiet subtlety of an indie drama like a loud coughing sound or a rumble from down under. Also, we’re all eating popcorn (hell, that’s the main reason most of us are here) but the least you could do is chew with your mouth closed.


Speaking of snacking, there’s a lot to consider when you’re munching at the movies. First of all, it’s 2016 — by now you should be well-aware that movie theatre foodstuffs are more expensive than they were in the ‘50s or whatever. Nothing’s more annoying that standing in line behind someone who’s complaining about a $3 soda pop or busting out the calculator to determine how much the theatre’s deals actually save you. Secondly, if you’re going to sneak a snack from home, please consider bringing something reasonable. There’s nothing worse than getting wafts of day old sushi or hearing someone loudly crunch into some celery while you’re trying to watch a Greek new wave classic.


When you’re sitting around in a crowded theatre for hours, your outfit becomes incredibly important — even more so if you’re watching back to back flicks. Think of it as if you’re flying — you want things that are loose, comfortable and not too bulky. You also want to perfectly dress for the temperature of the theatre. No one wants their movie-going experience interrupted by some dude struggling to take off his turtleneck when he gets too hot. Finally, what you wear is an opportunity to showcase your interests. And if you’re a film buff of any kind, we recommend accessorizing with our movie-themed pin set.


One of the most important tips we can possibly give is that you should have an open mind. This is not, after all, another night at the movies. These films might be scary, weird, confusing, upsetting, hilarious or just downright weird. But even if you’re sitting there feeling bored, uncomfortable or even annoyed, just think that someone decided that this film was worth booking for your enjoyment. Sit it through until the end, and you just might leave the festival with better taste and a new outlook on the world.
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