Anyone who’s been to a film festival or a movie premiere knows that the post-film Q & A has a way of bringing out the worst in people. Stupid questions abound, and both audience and talent are generally forced to suffer them. But last night, at the Q & A after the TIFF midnight screening of Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier’s follow-up to Blue Ruin – more on that later), I finally witnessed some poetic justice.
After a few of the more garden variety dumb movie questions†, a woman towards the front got called on, and directed her “question” towards Green Room‘s biggest celebrity in attendance, Patrick Stewart (who plays the leader of a Neo-Nazi cell in the film), saying “Since I’ll probably never get to do this another time, Patrick, can I have a hug?”
Patrick Stewart seemed to narrow his eyebrows slightly, and the auditorium was silent for just a beat, as the audience collectively pondered the logistics of Stewart honoring this request, of some woman climbing over God knows how many seats to get to him, or him to her, and bring the entire Q & A to a grinding halt in the meantime (it was 2 am at this point), all so she could check off this one asinine item from her bucket list. It was just a beat, probably more than a second but less than two, before the crowd started booing her. It wasn’t gratuitous, but just enough boos so that Patrick Stewart didn’t have to answer and the moderator could quickly move onto the next question.
This may not seem like much, but in more than 10 years of going to festival Q & As, premieres, press round tables, and even college film classes, this was the first time I ever saw a stupid question so perfectly treated to the response it deserved. It was beautiful. That’s good hustle, TIFF midnight crowd. Keep it up.
†Most commonly, it’s the guy asking the question-that-isn’t-really-a-question, wasting everyone’s time, trying to show the movie star/writer/director how smart he is. I guess under the mistaken assumption that he’s going identify a director’s John Ford influence and immediately be whisked off in the President of Show Business’s private. Congratulations, guy! You cracked the code of creativity! Incidentally, we also had one of these guys in attendance tonight, wearing a slouch beanie and comparing Green Room to Peckinpah. Nice, bro.