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Celebration Report

I just got back from Celebration, which was fantastic but something of an endurance test! I’m completely exhausted, so will sum up some of the most interesting things I heard, experienced and saw. I do have some pictures, but they will have to wait until I’m at a functional level of consciousness. 

- I saw two panels: Carrie Fisher’s and Future Filmmakers. I woke up at 4.30am and suffered for you all to bring you this report. And yes - it was 110% worth it.

- Erik Maell (painter of the famous bridal carry picture) is a real sweetheart, and was a lovely guy to speak with. He was very happy to talk about the picture and seemed pleased and intrigued that it had provoked so many interesting and divergent responses (recalling everything from Harlequin romance covers to Bon Jovi music videos!) He mentioned the abduction scene in the film having an almost romantic flair. His portfolio is also to die for, featuring some really impressive speculative depictions of Ben Solo (i.e. ‘what if’ Ben had never turned bad).

- Carrie was hilarious and Gary Fisher (her dog) was the real star of the show. It almost slipped past me, but Carrie did allude to two potential Episode VIII spoilers, mentioning a funeral for Han and that she wears an enormous dress (which came up in response to a question about whether she would take a lover in the next movie - she suggested hiding her lover in the dress as a possibility).

- Perhaps the best moment of the day came when Carrie said she spanked Adam Driver upon meeting him for the first time. I’m 99% sure she was being serious. She also spoke about Leia having a stormy relationship with Han, and said they had a child who grew up to be “space Hitler”. This all made me want to hear Carrie discuss Adam/Kylo more, since she gave me exactly what I wanted from her and more.

- The Future Filmmakers panel was very interesting but didn’t reveal anything truly meaty or new about Episode VIII. The main panel was with Pablo Hidalgo, Kathleen Kennedy, Kiri Hart, Rian Johnson, and Lord and Miller (directors of the Han Solo spinoff). Alden Ahrenreich was brought out as the new Han Solo, and John Boyega appeared to represent the new cast. Mark and Carrie also showed. There was no footage (unless you count a clip from The Lego Movie).

- Rian impressed me the most. He’s clearly very intelligent and I love how passionately he spoke about the project. He was visibly moved by the enormity of the event, and the level of investment people already have in his film.

- Some new films influencing Episode VIII were mentioned. As well as Letter Never Sent and Twelve O Clock High (which had already been cited as influences), Bridge Over The River Kwai and Three Outlaw Samurai were mentioned. Rian said that they have noticed particularly striking similarities to Twelve O Clock High when looking at how the film has come together. Another film was mentioned - the title sounded like ‘Gunda-Ding’ to me, but I expect that’s radically off base and we will probably need to ask Pablo to spell it.

- Rian confirmed that there is no time jump. Episode VIII picks up right where Episode VII left off (as the production teaser implied).

- Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo were repeatedly mentioned as the core characters that the new films are following. Rian said that Episode VIII builds on the groundwork laid by Episode VII, zooming in on the characters (”pushing deeper”) and getting to the heart of who they are. 

- There was lots of fluff about the magic of the Irish landscape, how awesome everyone is, and the obligatory “practical effects” party line. 

- There was a competition going on where people tried to give Pablo hugs of steadily increasing intensity. Lord and Miller won.

- John’s most notable contribution was hyping/bigging up Kelly Marie Tran. This was complemented by Rian stressing how “special” Kelly is.

- There is really no reason why the FF panel couldn’t have been screened. I’m baffled as to why it wasn’t, and think it’s something of a shame. It was a good tease, even though it lacked the big moments many of us were hoping for.

Those are the most amusing/interesting details that jump out at me! I had a great time - thanks to @bastila-bae for being a great queue buddy!

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