It seems very unreal to have actually witnessed the premiere of The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians Through Film. Unreal that it’s now in the past. For so long, it was always, “At the premiere…” “On June 22…” “…will take place in Washington…” It was always in the future. It is surreal for me to be blogging about it in the past.
It was a magical evening for me in many ways. First of all, there was a gratifyingly long line queued up to get in the doors. They had to open the hall 10 minutes early because somebody got concerned about fire code violations. I actually didn’t witness that, but my crew — my distribution assistant Melissa and my cameraman Aaron — told me about it. I had some peeps there with me or I would have gone crazy. I have footage of the entire evening, so I’ll be editing that together as quick as I can for YouTube, and it will ultimately go on the DVD special features when that comes out.
I have no experience estimating crowds, so I asked Shane, the professional A/V guy they always have for conferences, and he said without hesitating, “About 5,000.” Whoa.
When the lights dimmed, I, who had been expecting to be pacing in the back of the hall like a father-to-be, just sat there in a state of unbelievable weariness. It was as if I had just finished a marathon. I literally wanted to crawl under my row of seats and go to sleep in my ball gown.
I didn’t, of course. I watched the film (there were four screens set up so everyone could see well), and noted the reactions of the audience at various spots in the film. The sound was excellent (a major worry in a cavernous concrete space like that). I was gratified with the audience response. The laughter sounded like real enjoyment, not just polite chuckles. The silences I took to be genuine engagement with the dramatic elements (or was it boredom? Hmmm).
I was going insane before I set off for Washington. There were a thousand and one things to do, from programming in all my cell phone numbers in my brand new Verizon to getting my dress ready to returning phone calls to reporters.
Here’s what happened there. I have been in contact with NPR librarian Kee Malesky for months, and she has been a very enthusiastic supporter of the doc. She agreed to make a few remarks following the screening. I also asked her who she knows in the way of film critics at the Washington Post. She didn’t know anyone personally, but recommended one reviewer. I left a voice message for her, not expecting anything much, but giving it my best shot. To my surprise and delight, she called me back! We had a lovely conversation and she was very interested in the project.
Turns out she couldn’t attend the premiere (she lives in Baltimore), but she forwarded an invitation to her editor who in turn sent it along to the Style section. Monica Hesse, the reporter and Susan Biddle, a photographer, were assigned to the event.
The result? The amazing piece in the Sunday Style section entitled The Modern Librarian: A Role Worth Checking Out. I couldn’t have dreamed up better press coverage.
After the screening I went up on stage and brought up the “stars” of the film: Martin Garnar, a PATRIOT ACT and privacy rights expert; Maria Mena, a children’s librarian; Susan Turrell, a rural library director from Pennsylvania; Dr. Rhea Lawson, director of Houston Public Library; Jane Curtis, inmate literacy coordinator from San Quentin; Molly Kliss, a 20-something librarian – now in Missoula, then a library student; Susan Hildreth, California State Librarian; Pat Lawton, a great cataloger; and Jamie LaRue, the eloquent library director from Colorado (who also made a few remarks). They were all warmly applauded, especially the diminutive Jane Curtis, who deals with convicted felons and helps them learn how to read and how to teach literacy to their peers.
My entire family was there, complete with 3 nieces and a nephew, and Saturday night I was taken to a celebration dinner at Zaytinya, an amazing, happening joint. 23 people were at the dinner which lasted for 3 and a half hours — many drinks, many courses, toasts and congrats. Librarians in the restaurant stopped by to congratulate me.
When I got off the plane on Tuesday (home about 1 pm), I drink two tall, strong vodka and lemonades in quick succession and then fell asleep for 4 hours. Also slept like a baby last night.
More about the film and its distribution in the next couple of days…now, emails/laundry/piles of cat hair command my attention.
Thank you all for your wonderful support.