Durango needs ‘Something Wild’

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

“Just because we live in Durango, doesn’t mean we can’t have the cultural experience of a larger city like Chicago or Los Angeles,” said Derrick Casto, ambitious organizer of a proposed November festival called Something Wild. Casto was a program director for Durango Film and studied English and film theory at Oklahoma State. His festival slate would include new AND old films; Korean cinema, cult classics and great movies that never got the box office pomp they deserved. Casto is additionally trying to set up monthly screenings to showcase films that aren’t available on the big screen in our area. He’ll be hosting the Sundance Shorts program coming up on Aug. 12 (tickets will available at Maria’s) and is currently looking for interested townsfolk and volunteers to help bring the dream of Something Wild to fruition. If you love movies but yearn for more eclectic options and for the chance to watch old favorites in a theater again, Casto is your man.

How’d you get the idea to start a film festival here?I’ve been working at a variety of festivals for over eight years now. Usually in November it’s always so slow in Durango. I thought the second week of November until Thanksgiving would be a great time for a big event. On a local level, it makes sense. Maybe this could be something in the region everyone gets really excited about.

How would it be different from the Durango Film fest?It’s not competitive. No juries, no audience award, no winners. There’s no true categories – we’ll have programs, and if we do anything it will be off-beat or hyper-focused. We might do something like, ‘Burt Reynolds in the ’80s.’ I’d love to find old films that are almost forgotten, especially indies that at one point seemed to have a lot of promise but never really made it to cult or classic status.

Will there also be new films?Yes, I’m actively seeking newer films. But those can be anything, no theme.

Why is it important for people to see older films they might’ve missed or didn’t appreciate? It’s the equivalent to saying, “Why would you want to read ‘Moby Dick?’” You read that because it can teach you something about the way your society functions or how you, as a person, are. The same thing applies to older films. And sometimes if you revisit films that are forgotten, they might have a more profound effect on you than, say, “Casablanca.” You know what you’re getting into with “Casablanca,” even if you’ve never seen it – you’ve heard a thousand people quote it, tell the story of it. Whereas if you get something like “Cocaine Angel,” a lot of people have never even heard of that film, and you might watch it and be like, “I get this.” With very little introduction. You have no presets.

Do you have people helping you, on board with this already?A handful. A lot of people are like, “I like the idea, but it’s a huge risk.” But what’s life without a risk? The risk is, no one could show up.

Any examples of movies you’re thinking of showing?Right now I have it stuck in my head to do a Korean film theme. Introduce this region to Korean cinema, which is very rich and in the last decade has become an explosive force, with “Ip Man,” “The Host,” “Mother.” I was also thinking we could focus on cinematography, especially action-adventure that involves the outdoors, since we have an outdoor community and there’s a lot of amateur and semi-pro photographers and cinematographers in this area. I might also do a “Future from the Past” theme, showing movies from the ’70s that are supposed to take place today. And you’re like, “That’s not even close.”

What other film festivals do you want to emulate? Telluride. I’ve been involved with them for six years. You can see old archived film footage of the festival in its first couple years – there was no one there. They’d be doing town talks with a half-broken table and a mic with wire exposed, and people are sitting on dirt. It started out small. The founders dug through it. They even admit that for the first five years, they were barely getting by. In the fifth year they were all ready to call it quits. That motivates me.

And you’re also trying to set up monthly movie screenings? I’d like to try and generate awareness for Something Wild. It’s not like I have a big staff behind me. It’s just me. So people who are interested, maybe students who want something to put on a resume or just really love film and want to be involved in some way, can get in touch. The Durango Film Festival does a great job, but they’re only five days. And the movie theaters here are great, but they have contractual obligations. It’s also an excuse to do something silly and fun; we might do “The Royal Tenenbaums” and have a costume contest based on that. This town loves costumes. Or something like “Everybody Wants Some!!” the new Richard Linklater film. It’s streaming online now, and there were trailers for it at the theaters here, but it’s not playing.

What does “Something Wild” mean?At Sundance I saw “Wild,” a German film. And after I got out of the theater I thought, “Wow. That’s just something wild.” There was no other way to explain it. So that’s sort of my goal. I want people to come and have an experience where they don’t know what to think for a couple minutes. I want to present people with something they expect to be straightforward and then when they leave they’re like, “That’s a lot more than I expected.”

Derrick needs volunteers and local businesses to help out. If interested, contact him at [email protected]

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