Red Stick Strikes Again
Adding a fan-directed sci-fi/fantasy component to Red Stick might be a good idea if it were anchored by an anime track or the occasional American effort like The Iron Giant. As Fandemonium stands now, however, it still has a way to go. Other than a handful of authors and Star Trek/Stargate veteran Robert Picardo promoting his appearance in a low budget sci-fi movie, big genre names were absent and overall attendance was low. An all-but empty dealer's room (three occupied tables out of 25 or 30 set up for the event) was a particularly telling sign.
Red Stick asked Baton Rouge resident Sydney LeJeune, organizer of the town's annual sci-fi convention, to create and run Fandemonium. "It was kind of a short notice," she said by way of explanation. "Vendors usually decide which conventions to attend a year in advance. This weekend is the Austin Comic-Con --Star Trek fans who would have come here from Texas are there instead. I don't blame them -- that one's a lot bigger."
The festival's last act was its most spectacular, a show that filled the stage at the city's River Center Arena. My younger son is a collector of original soundtracks (like his dad), but it turns out he's not a John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith fan --when he says "soundtrack" he's talking about video game music.
A mini costume contest (the winnah: a youngster dressed as Legend of Zelda's Link), a high-stakes Guitar Hero session and a blazing (real) guitar turn by concert creator and composer Tommy Tallarico eliminated any risk of the evening turning self-congratulatory. (And you've never lived until you've heard Tetris music performed by 90 classically-trained musicians.
Time to put a bow and ribbon on this thing: 437 films from 36 countries competing for awards in nine categories (all of which were winnowed down to the Golden Baton winner Lilac Wine)… a brand new Red Stick award, the Sci-An trophy (two winners there: CNN for its Deepwater Horizon simulations, and the Manitoba Museum for its multi-screen Ancient Seas presentation)… and tons of other stuff I wasn't able to take in.
And now, a few opinions on Red Stick, beginning with festival director Stacey Simmons: "Overall, I was pleased with the festival. Our overall attendance was down, which was a little disappointing, but also expected since we changed our ticketing structure and with the economy in general in tatters.