All photos by Jack Plunkett and Annie Ray
Last weekend I attended the second annual Forever Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin. I wrote a preview post about the festival here - but here's what you need to know. It's established and run by Sarah Pitre, Director of Programming at the Alamo Drafthouse and founder of our sister site Forever Young Adult, and Brandy Fons, founder of Fons PR and Director of Publicity for the Alamo. It takes place over a weekend in November, and it's a celebration of "girlie pop culture." You can read my report from last year's Forever Fest here.
Here's Sarah and Brandy, being adorable heroes for creating such a completely fun and singular festival:
So what all did we do during 4F 2014? So much! Friday night kicked off with a ten-year anniversary screening and Action Pack quote-along of Mean Girls, with stars Daniel Franzese (Damian), Jonathan Bennett (Aaron) and Daniel DeSanto (Jason) in attendance. The sold-out crowd was all in costume, the Mean Girls boys were hilarious and charming and seemed totally thrilled to be there, and the event was followed by a Spring Fling party next door at The Highball, with a crazy dance party, costume contest (the winner got to slow-dance with Damian!), themed cocktails (available all weekend) and Mean Girls photobooth. And check out the hilarious Drafthouse Don't Talk PSA Franzese, Bennett and DeSanto made for the occasion!
Saturday, Austin nail artists Nails Y'all offered a nail workshop to teach attendees how to give themselves the freshest manis ever. Complete with mani-cam!
Followed by, no lie, the greatest hour of my life! Tiny Tails held a little animals petting zoo in the lobby of the Drafthouse!!! I got to hold a hedgehog named Hazel and two bunnies, and I petted a chinchilla and a monitor. It was HEAVEN. And then we entered the theater for Cute Brunch, ninety minutes of hilarious and adorable videos of cute stuff being cute as we ate eggs and drank mimosas. OH MAN. It started with a game: contestants had to do their best not to smile while an incredibly articulate young lady described super cute pictures projected on the screen.
Next we had Meme Girls: Women on the Internet, as The Toast's Mallory Ortberg, The Hairpin's Jazmine S. Hughes, Hello Giggles' Jennifer Romolini and HuffPost Teen's Taylor Trudon gave a funny and frank panel, moderated by Sarah, on the challenges and victories of running a site for women online. These ladies are all incredibly smart and cool and outspoken, and I loved hearing everything they had to say. It was a really enlightening and inspiring hour for me personally, because I just so happen to be a woman who writes on the Internet.
Meme Girls was followed by the triumphant return of Danceoke, in which professional and not-as-professional dancers in Austin perform famous dances from films and music videos, with the dances projected behind them onscreen. This is a PRODUCTION, with costumes and props and all-out performances, and it's been an amazing highlight of 4F for both years.
Next we had a preview screening of Drafthouse Films' beautiful upcoming film Amira & Sam. Sarah found Sean Mullins' wonderful rom-com, starring Martin Starr and Dina Shihabi, and brought it to Drafthouse Films, and now Forever Fest is producing it along with DHF. The screening was attended by Mullins, Star and Shihabi, and they gave such an amazing Q&A. You can tell they all really believe in this film, and I believe in it too. Watch the trailer here!
The screening was followed by a pajama party at the Highball! We all put on our jammies and slippers, which makes for the comfiest dance party ever. Britt stopped by to launch her amazing new book, I Should Just Not, and we all danced too much, had our hair braided, played MASH, threw pillow fights and generally had way too much fun.
And finally, Sunday morning ended Forever Fest 2014 in style, with the Wild Brunch, a repeat of last year's rowdiest event. Sarah edits together a really funny and crazy-hot montage of sexy men being shirtless, dancing, talking about their feelings and doing pull-ups, and we all watch it and hoot at the screen while drinking. It's THE BEST. Sarah, being my best friend, included a clip of Tom Welling shirtless from Smallville and Jensen Ackles lip-syncing "Eye of the Tiger" from Supernatural JUST FOR ME, so I left Forever Fest feeling like the luckiest girl in the world!
There's so much of our modern pop culture and festival landscape that feels exclusive of women - or if it's not particularly exclusive, it's still not intended for us. Forever Fest is this beautiful thing that celebrates so much of what it means to be a pop culture-obsessed woman - all of the silliness and the realness - and, beyond that, it's just FUN. Really, unbelievably fun.