Tromsø International Film Festival: An American in (the) Paris (of the North)

DAY 1:

Most Americans have never heard of Tromsø. In fact, many geographically-challenged Americans would have trouble locating Norway on a map. But the six of you who saw my blog from two years ago (now sadly relegated to the digital dustbin of cyber-deletion) know that not only is this lovely city of some 75,000 people known as "the Paris of the North" -- it also hosts a major international film festival each year.

TIFF, not to be confused with the better known (because, no doubt, more accessible) Toronto festival, is now in its 27th year and judging from the increasing thickness of the catalogues continues to thrive. It's a 19-hour, three-plane journey to get here from Los Angeles, and the trip began auspiciously... when who should I see sitting three seats over, but director/movie god Quentin Tarantino!

As you can see, Quentin brought with him a pile of scripts that he began tackling even before we were off the ground. Being a starstruck celebrity dope, I of course immediately texted just about everyone I know. (My dentist's receptionist must have been startled to hear from me.) I was dying to know if Tarantino was going to the Festival. But also being pathologically shy -- and not wanting to be one more obnoxious groupie -- I hesitated to approach him. Still, after disembarking in Frankfurt, I waited at the top of an escalator and pounced: "Mr. T, are you by any chance going to Tromsø?" He was not, but kindly told me to enjoy myself after I mentioned this would be my third year in a row there.

And again, since only six of you will likely read this, I can share a bit of TMI by telling you (because at one point he leaned forward in his seat to retrieve something off the floor) that Quentin Tarantino wears white briefs. (You won't find that in The Hollywood Reporter!)

Later today, I'll be seeing (and reviewing) the Greek absurdist comedy CHEVALIER and (very excited about this one, for which I overheard buzz among other press people at the ticket counter) the mockumentary KING OF THE BELGIANS.

One more thing: Tromsø is famous as being one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. The last two years I was here, the skies were clear, but Nature did not cooperate, and all I saw was stars. Meanwhile, my FOX 11 colleague, photojournalist extraordinaire Tony Buttitta, recently returned from Finland and posted jaw-dropping shots of the heavens lit up like paradise. I'm still waiting.

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