CINE-WEEN 2019: A Dark Celebration

Welcome friends, enemies, and uninterested parties to another edition of CINE-WEEN – our month long celebration of all the fear, pain, joy, hope, and grossness we have come to associate with Halloween. Cinepunx was recently described to me as an entirely tentative affair. What I think that refers to is the way we are always on the edge of something, working toward something more permanent and stable. At any given time those of us who volunteer our talents and attention to make sure this scrappy little website functions are on the verge of seeing it gain enough popularity to exist indefinitely, or just about to give up and move on. Strange then that Cine-Ween, our time of focusing on death and fear and terror, ie: transitions and letting go, is actually when the website comes alive and feels most like itself. It is, ironically, when we are focusing on the very instability of our lives that suddenly this thing feels real, and like what we always wanted it to be. 

It is no great insight on our part to suddenly expand the celebration of Halloween to the entire month of October. In fact, many friends of the site have been celebrating since Sept 1 and we do not blame them for it. Though I love Summer, for those who find its sweaty embrace horrifying, Fall represents a return to something at least tolerable. Plus, the various memories and cultural experiences around this time of year can, for many of us, strike a powerful chord of nostalgia. So we use this time to indulge our interests in the macabre, as well as some of the lighter, maybe even silly elements of the season. Halloween has become the mixture of both; the ominous shape waiting in the dark, but also the fun candy and treats we share with friends. Somehow in Halloween we find that balance of dealing with our fear but also having fun and being silly. There is a moment of staring into those things that haunt a world which otherwise appears so bright and so alive (I am fully aware I am describing a past that does not exist, and fully missing describing our actual present which is dark and full of terrors). Yet there is also the fun of costumes and cider and simply enjoying being with those we care about. Is this mixture of the dark and the light, of fear and of fun, some kind of avoidance or are these things actually linked?

Of course, part of why this is such an expansive and uniting time for us as an organization is because it gives us a rare unifying purpose. No one could accuse us of having too narrow a focus, unless they mean simply being punk-adjacent folks who love celebrating culture is somehow too specific. Cine-Ween allows us to call to people to share a very realized idea, what it is they feel and think about when considering the specter of Halloween. There is though some magic in the thing itself as well. Coming together around sharing what scares us, in a way it is what church should have been, that is united by insecurity. Not every piece will be as vulnerable as admitting, as I am about to, that every Halloween I am forced not only to confront my own fear, but why it is that when I confront my fear I feel more alive, even more real. Some of this month will be simply having fun, exploring our memories and our hopes, admitting what it is about this time that makes us smile. Yet allowing that space, for us to both celebrate and explore our anxieties around death and pain, is what I hope this site provides if even on the most surface level. It is not all so grandiose, but it can be that when it is what we need or want. That at least is my hope when I call out to the internet and ask “ Will you join your voice to ours?” That voice should be your own of course, but if what you need to say is fun or dark, we will try and hold it as best we can. 

Let’s not fool ourselves though, this openness of dialogue and desire to support the voices of a variety of individuals… that is only part of the story. We are also getting “THE TEAM” together, like fate is gathering our forces. Imagine somewhere between an 80s action film montage but with the kind of miscast misfits more akin to MONSTER SQUAD. Each of us have a role to play, but it is likely none of us imagined ourselves here and we wonder if we belong. This has been our goal for some time, our seldom stated mission, to gather folks who are willing to explore new realms of cinema, to plumb the depths of obscure and dangerous music, to ask insightful questions about art and culture, and through all this invite new communities to form around unexpected cultural products. Cinepunx wants to be, at some level, your virtual gathering place where we cross all manner of barriers. Cine-Ween then, in delving into the spooky, allows us to touch a kind of transcendence or immanence, that is to make present an idea and a hope. I have perhaps made too much of what is in fact a small thing.  Horror and the darker parts of life, well they have a home here all year long. This is not a costume we are wearing for a short time. Rather, these are our Sunday best, so to speak, an opportunity for us to lift up something we love.  I hope that Cine-Ween, this year and every year, is a time to explore our joys and our fears and our pain but like, to also eat some monster cereal. This celebration is one of artifice, but it points towards the real and the performative, helping us to see how they blend together. That under the masks we can connect with something that we will carry with us even after this month is over. Join us, as a reader, a listener, or a contributor. Cine-Ween happens because you are here. 

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Liam O'Donnell

Liam O'Donnell is co-creator and co-host of the Cinepunx podcast and Editor in Chief of the Cinepunx website. Liam has written about film, music, politics and faith for a variety of publications in real life and online. Despite his advanced age he can be seen moshing in the greater Philadelphia area, usually to a cover song. He can be seen sitting in the audience at the newest comic book film, the retro drive-in screening of a Fulci film, or catching a series of Jodorowsky films. Liam has worked in social services, events planning, arts curation, education, community organizing, faith communities, and scooping ice cream. He has worked with festivals like This Is Hardcore Fest and The Awesome Fest. Despite all these things, Cinepunx is definitely the coolest thing he has ever done.
Liam O'Donnell
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