Guest Blogger Allen Mondell directed the documentary A Fair to Remember with his wife, Cynthia Salzman Mondell. Allen is currently touring the film in Lithuania as part of the American Documentary Showcase sponsored by the State Department. He will be blogging for Art&Seek about his experiences; here is his first report from the road:
VILNIUS, Lithuania — On one side of the Neris River are glass skyscrapers, rush hour traffic, wide boulevards and electric-powered trolleybuses. On the other side, there are the reminders of a 14th century town with narrow curved streets lined with shops and restaurants and walls both freshly painted and in states of disrepair. Baroque and Gothic churches line what seem like every block, and intimate courtyards once enjoyed by feudal landlords are now populated by students smoking and chattering between classes.
This is where Big Tex and I will be spending the next few days as part of an American Documentary Showcase, sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the American Embassy here in Vilnius, Lithuania. I’ll be showing our documentary, A Fair to Remember, to the public in movie theaters, and to students at several universities, and then answering questions about the film and American culture.
The film chronicles the history of Great State Fair of Texas, from its inception in 1886 to its destination today as the largest fair of its kind in the country. When the Fair opens its gates on Friday, three and a half million people will pass through its turnstiles during the next three weeks. This is the entire population of Lithuania.
I’m very curious to hear how this audience will respond to the film. Will they find it strange, exotic, fun or an example of American/Texas excess? Is there anything in their culture that compares to the Fair? Or maybe I’ll find an enterprising entrepreneur who will want to start the Lithuanian corny dog franchise.