Monday, July 7, 2008

‘What’s your orientation?’ ‘Volunteer.’

On what felt like the first real day of summer (Saturday July 5th), with hair-dryer-like heat and locker-room humidity, about 100 bright and beaming faces gathered at the Tokyo Women’s Plaza in Omote-Sando for our annual volunteer orientation. Was it the joy of seeing old friends for the first time in almost a year (‘hisashiburi ne?’), the anticipation of catching a sexy flick at the festival with their free volunteer pass, or was it just the glistening sweat that was lighting up their faces? Probably all three!

Funako-san, the fetching red-and-white capped veteran of the festival, put us through our paces as volunteer coordinator and kept us laughing as we hunkered down for the first and last big volunteer meeting before the festival starts. Volunteers divided themselves into five teams, to keep the festival running smoothly, out front and behind the scenes.

The people you will see at the door, in the lobby, at the Ticketing / Reception Desk, the Bar Counter, and the Stage Staff, will be making sure you’ve got the right ticket for the right show, that you can see and hear clearly, that your thirst is adequately quenched (and your attempt to hit on that cute guy or girl next to you adequately lubricated with alcohol), and that you can make it to the washroom in case of… well, any emergency that might arise!

The people you won’t see, in subtitle operation and behind the stage, will be making sure your ignorance of Taiwanese, German, French, Chinese, Korean, Italian (or, heck, Japanese – and maybe English too!), will not interfere with your ability to enjoy the film, and that the guests you are eagerly waiting to see are just as fresh and ready to talk as you are eager to listen and ask those scintillating questions, like…

‘What was your favorite part of working with Tori Spelling?’
(Kiss the Bride)

‘If Shakespeare were gay, which of your lead actors do you think he’d rather have slept with?’ (Were the World Mine)

‘What advice do you have for people who want to keep their marriage ‘gay’?’
(Out at the Wedding)

Nandemo ii. (Anything is okay!)

The meeting was a great success, thanks not just to the dozens of new volunteers, but to our veteran team-leaders, whose calm exteriors spoke not just to the depth of their past experience, but also the desire to look good in front of all those cute new recruits! They can be forgiven – can’t they? – if they put on a little extra make-up, plucked their eyebrows a little more thoroughly, or pressed their shirts to look just so… after all, the chance to meet this many new (and hopefully eligible) strangers only comes around once a year!

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