Chronicles of a Film Junkie: What It’s Like to Spend Over 3 Days in a Theater Watching 20 Films

Two years ago, the first Lost Weekend event was born. The concept was simple: with so many movies out there, what better way to get through the winter months by taking a weekend to binge on films? That first weekend consisted of eight films, three of which had been nominated in the foreign language category at the Oscars. Having this kind of access to Oscar-nominated films was unheard of in this small town, so naturally I had to attend this event. And $30 to see eight films was a bargain. Over the course of that weekend I saw some great films, but something unexpected happened. By the time the last film ended, those of us who attended all the films felt a connection with each other, and friendships were born.

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Over the past two years Lost Weekend has continually grown. Every six months a new Lost Weekend event is announced. By now I have attended each one and have seen every movie shown during these weekends. With each Lost Weekend event more films are added and more people get excited to the point that the event now sells out within minutes. I guess other people have discovered the secret of Lost Weekend: not only having the opportunity to see great films but to connect with other fellow film lovers.

This past weekend was Lost Weekend V. Between Thursday evening through Sunday evening I watched a total 20 films. That’s how crazy these “weekend” events have become. What a far cry from that original eight movie event! Since I’ve been to every Lost Weekend it is now a personal challenge for me to see every film (why break my streak?). When I heard that this weekend would consist of 20 films I was definitely nervous about making it through all of them. From experience I know how mentally challenging this is. So what’s it really like to binge on 20 films?

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Thursday Evening: Thursday is opening night for the event. I’ve been at work all day and by the afternoon my excitement is building because all I’m concerned about is clocking out and heading over to the theater. You have to start lining up as soon as you can because opening night is a packed house and I need to get a decent seat. Energy levels are high all around. The film tonight is The Lobster, so we all have lobster bibs draped over our seats, and our fearless leader Andy is dressed up in a lobster costume. When the film is over, the discussions begin. People are either loving the film or hating it, but there’s also the realization that there are still 19 more films ahead so maybe we should really get some sleep now.

Friday: Today is the first full day of movies. There are seven movies to get through, which begin at 11 am and then the last movie airing around midnight. I find that Friday is the only day I truly feel awake and refreshed, so my energy levels are good. We begin the day with The Vanished Elephant, a mystery thriller and a good start to the day because as I will soon find out, this is the most alert I will be all weekend. Next up is the drama Macbeth, followed by a documentary, Where To Invade Next. Still holding steady. Then a break! Long enough for me to check into the hotel next door and get back to the theater in time for a wine tasting.

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Friday Evening: After the break, there are four films yet to get through. The evening begins with the drama 45 Years and then a more humorous anthology film in Wild Tales. As we get later into the evening, the films start getting stranger while I start getting sleepier. There’s Nina Forever and then the final film of the day, Men & Chicken. It’s getting tougher to process what is going on in the films, and it doesn’t help that the plots of these films are a bit out there. So now it’s around 2:30 AM and I stumble across the parking lot to the hotel. I fall into bed, but still feeling wound up from the day so I don’t fall asleep for awhile…

Saturday: I think I got maybe a solid three to four hours sleep, and today is another block of seven films. It doesn’t help that when I got to my room just six hours before I laid my glasses down without paying attention to where I put them. I spend a good chunk of time this morning on my hands and knees Scooby-Doo style searching for them while trying not to panic. Yet when I combine that panic and adrenaline with some coffee, well now I’m ready for the day! The first film is an animated title Boy & the World followed by Tale of Tales and then another documentary, An Honest Liar.

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Saturday Evening: Oh boy, I’m really starting to fade. After a break is the thriller Sea Fog. I get really into this film, but the next film after it is Louder Than Bombs. This film is a heavy drama and I find that I’m not in the mood for a drama. I’m looking forward to the next film, Monster Hunt. It looks fun and silly and I’m ready for that. About halfway through the film my eyes get heavy and next thing I know I’m drifting in and out of consciousness. Darn it, I really wanted to be fully awake for that film. I try to perk up for the final movie of the day, Victoria. I start out feeling refreshed, but then those eyelids start feeling heavy again. By the time I get back to the hotel room I collapse onto the bed and just fall into a deep sleep.

Sunday: Getting up this morning is tough. I get to the theater and start to feel better. Theater #5 is now my new home, and watching movies all day is my new normal. I wonder if the post office can forward all my mail to the theater. I pretty much live here. But I digress: we are down to the final stretch and there are just five more films to go. I say bring it on! We delve into Youth, then the Oscar-nominated Mustang. Only three more films to go! I get through Men Go To Battle, and then it’s time for Carol. Who am I? Where am I? What am I doing? Oh, that’s right. My entire existence right now is watching movies. We are now down to the final film, Liza the Fox-Fairy. Thank goodness this film is fun and quirky. I don’t think I can handle any sort of deep thinking right now. My brain is mush, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. So the weekend is over, and now I have to return to reality. Bummer.

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The toughest part in watching 20 films over a weekend is not having the time to process what I’ve seen. At the end of each day I try to get an initial impression and then rate each film on my Letterboxd page. But there are those films where I found myself feeling drowsy during them and I know if I had seen these films at a different day and time I’d probably have a better view of them. It’s nothing to do with the film itself, I just got tired. Usually I find the films still drifting in and out of mind over the next couple weeks. But even though my mind gets mushy by the end of Lost Weekend I wouldn’t do anything different. I’m just a film junkie, and this is what I do.


Chronicles of a Film Junkie: What It’s Like to Spend Over 3 Days in a Theater Watching 20 Films

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