If day one of KahBang showed how much the festival has grown over last year’s version, day two showed how diverse programming and scheduling can both help and hinder an event. Saturday was a busy day for the film portion of KahBang, with three features, three documentaries, two collections of short films and a series of panels all centered around the film industry. The Bangor Opera House and the Union Street Brick Church both hosted events, which featured works from both national and local filmmakers.
One of the greatest things about the festival so far has been how accessible most of the artists have been to their audiences, and how enthusiastic the town and the festival attendees have been. Simply walking around Bangor on Saturday afternoon, I overheard people talking at lunch about the films that they had just seen, or events that they were excited about attending. Sitting down for lunch, I started up a conversation with the gentleman next to me, only to have him introduce himself as one of the directors of a short film that was going to be screened later in the night. Chase Bailey is a New Hampshire filmmaker and actor, and described his short, “Crooked Lane”, as a “paranormal thriller.” He and I spoke about the festival, and his experiences with other festivals that had problems when showcasing local talent. “The problem (the festivals) have is that they become over saturated with mediocre works, because (the programmers) are neighbors with a director and feel obligated to help out their friend, instead of focusing on the quality of the festival.” Having showcased his short at festivals throughout New England, he said that he was pleased to see what he called a “real balance” of both local works and films that had received exposure at larger, nationally renowned festivals.
Later in the evening, I switched roles from attendee to artist, DJing a “KahBang @ Night” event at the Thai Lounge in downtown Bangor. While the festival attendees and others I spoke to after the night were receptive, I could tell having a departure from the normal “Top-40” style DJ wasn’t something that the regular patrons were excited about. Having diverse programming can be a real benefit, especially during events like the kickoff concert at the Brick Church on Friday. However, booking nighttime acts at locations that are used to a different style can be an issue, as it was last night.
KahBang powers on to its third day today with the continuation of the film festival. The biggest feature of the day is a showing of the first film of the critically acclaimed “Red Riding” Trilogy, entitled “Red Riding: In The Year of Our Lord 1974.” The film, directed by English director Julian Jarrold is being shown at the Bangor Opera House at 7:30 pm. The three films are being brought to the festival in conjunction with River City Cinema, and is another feather in the cap for the KahBang staff, who so far, despite the rare hiccup here and there, have really pulled out the stops to bring some great film, art and music to Bangor.