The special events of Day 2 of the LRFF offered some truly unique screening experiences. For starters, yesterday afternoon we gathered at the Little Rock Zoo to meet Jewell, an Asian elephant who, in her old age, has been outfitted with a prosthetic boot to correct the pain and discomfort she was experiencing in her gait, similar to the elephants in Windy Borman’s documentary, The Eyes of Thailand, who are given prosthetic legs after they’ve suffered serious injury from landmines. Zookeeper Justin spoke to the crowd about Jewell’s history and the process of creating the boot for her. In fact, Melissa Snell of Snell Prosthetic and Orthotic Labratory, the company who devised the boot for Jewell, was even in the crowd and mentioned the struggles and all the tiny adjustments they had to make to find the perfect fit. Filmmaker Borman was also on hand to ask questions—she expressed pleasure that Jewell was allowed to roam on the sloping grassy garden instead of having to adjust to her prosthetic on concrete. After the screening of her compassionate documentary, Borman answered audience questions about the elephant hospital in Thailand, how she came across her subject, raised the money to return, and how, unfortunately, the elephant hospital is currently struggling financially. It’s a new film, only out since April, and Borman hopes to screen the film at the elephant hospital to raise money to keep it and the courageous efforts of founder Soraida Salwala and her team going strong. The evening discussion with Arkansas-born director Jay Russell at the Arkansas Arts Center was postponed just for a bit due to technical difficulties—Russell...
America's Parking Lot Q & A (All Photos by Nicholas Pippins) The first night of the LRFF felt true to the atmosphere of the opening film, *America’s Parking *Lot–there was plenty of meat cooking, beer chugging, and arguing about football. The opening reception was packed, easily a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd, with delicious h’ors d’oeuvres from Ben E. Keith circulating by hungry hands. Once everyone was seated, Craig and Brent Renaud thanked all of the sponsors that make the LRFF possible, and introduced the director of *America’s Parking Lot*, Jonny Mars. He stepped onstage and immediately led the crowd in applause for the Renaud brothers making the LRFF one of the most exciting up-and-coming film fests in the world. Despite some brief heckling and crowd banter, which Mars handled expertly (things were already a little rowdy, you see), he mentioned that the screenings of his documentary always began with a ceremonial beer-chugging contest, and passed out cans of Bud Light to the Renauds and cracked one for himself. It’s safe to say that Mars was the champion. The film itself is a lively, heartfelt tale of fandom through the eyes of two principal tailgaters, Cy and Tiger. As things were already a little giddy, the theater regularly swelled with laughter at the antics and protestations of the film’s two protagonists. Afterwards, as Cy Ditmore himself sauntered onstage, clad in the same blue button-down shirt and cowboy hat he sported in the movie, he called out, “How ’bout them Cowboys!” Unlike question-and-answer sessions where the actors materialize onstage as regular folk, seeing a real-live person from a real-live documentary doesn’t offer that...