Reluctant Traveler’ shares his experience

The coolest thing about attending a film festival is definitely the question and answer sessions that often follow a screening.

After watching the hilariously entertaining and educational travel documentary The Reluctant Traveler, Marco Orsini, the writer and director turned comedic tour guide of the wonders (and inconveniences) of Ethiopia fielded some questions from inquisitive filmgoers in attendance.

During the screening (its world premiere by the way) uproarious laughter filled the theatre as the classic fish-out-of-water travel tale unfolded. And when Orsini took the stage after a thunderous ovation, he seemed happy to share his experience with the delighted crowd.

To understand fully, you really have to check out the film which will be showing at seven film festivals in places like Wales, Breckenrtidge and Los Angeles and hopefully will be released on a larger scale to mass audiences.

Orsini’s sarcastic sense of humor is perfect for the trials and tribulations that are documented throughout the film and the synopsis in the Film Festival’s brochure is pretty accurate when it says Borat meets Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. But around every hilarious turn, there is a genuine appreciation of the beauty and mystique of Ethiopia as reluctance turns into exuberance for the unique culture of the often misunderstood country.

Some highlights from the Q&A:

Orsini, despite his original reluctance, has been back to Ethiopia three times since his initial voyage and he even opened a school there that teaches film at the university level. He even arranged a 10 minute or less documentary projects for the students and their prize for winning is entry into the Cannes Film Festival.

Orsini said he’d like to do a series with the possibility of doing three more films.

The film was in the making for two years with over 100 hours of original footage edited into the 82 minute version that was screened Sunday.

He said despite the humor, he set out to make an educational documentary, but this version was more audience friendly and less boring. He wanted to show people that Ethiopia isn’t simply characterized by AIDs, famine and suffering, but great beauty and wonderful people.

In the film, Orsini samples a local plant called chat and when asked what the buzz was like, and after reminding the audience that his mother was in attendance, he responded: “It’s kind of like Vicodin mixed with Red Bull … but it makes your teeth yellow and your eyes red permanently.”

I won’t give too much more away, but this film is definitely the ‘must-see’ of the festival thus far.