FISM Day 1

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FISM Day 1

Postby CraigMitchell » July 6th, 2015, 11:15 am

FISM Day 1

It’s day 1 of the World Championships of Magic … and lesson to be learned – always read the program. It seems Silvan had some inside info. on what we should expect. He writes in his welcome:

“We have the conviction and belief that perfection does not exist! … We apologize for the imperfections …”

That’s a novel introduction – let’s apologise from the start after promising the ‘best FISM ever’. He may want to take up mentalism as it is going to prove somewhat prophetic.

The “official opening” scheduled for 8:15 am mysteriously disappears … and some 45 minutes later we have yet to begin because we are still frantically plugging in jury lights and lamps. Really ? Opening contest delayed because no one bothered to setup the jury table table the day before ? These aren’t imperfections – they are just inexcusable for an event which is the World Championships of Magic. Punctuality isn’t optional. It’s a pre-requisite … and yes, we are all aware that some take a somewhat laissez-faire approach to these matters - even more of a reason for it to be right the first time. Gay Ljunberg & his crew have been killing themselves backstage – the performers are on edge and they don’t deserve such unnecessary delays and added stress.

FISM is also lacking the much needed skills of the ‘fixer-of-all-problems’ Frank Wilson … and his ever popular strain of ‘magic all over the world’ ;-) If anyone can keep a waiting crowd happy – it’s Frank Wilson!

Eventually the lamps get power – the judges are in position – and the World Championships of Magic 2015 is underway !

Mag Edgar – Spain – Stage Illusions
Hansel & Gretel stage set with a homemade cardboard costume of a walking tree ( Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy anyone ? ). A headless man has his head re-attached & a beautiful glass elevator illusion sees the magician vanish quite literally upwards. In the end we descend into something more closely resembling childrens pantomime – with assistants visible entering and exiting the ‘hidden flaps’ of the stage set, a sword box using garden instruments – and “levitation attached to back wall” Unfortunately it’s not considered floating when you are mere centimetres from the wall of your stage set …

Francesco Addeo – Italy – Mentalism
A “psychokinetic touches” / sympathetic responses routine … a lacklustre ending and please don’t clap for yourself when finished performing.

Deklan – Argentina – Manipulation
A young performer with champagne bucket, fire wallet, appearing glasses, fan of bills – and cards switching to card box, and card box back to cards. Add in some manipulation, color changing cards and compulsory card fountain. Deklan unfortunately lacks stage personality – and with the manipulation category so over run with genius technicians from the East … you need something special to stand out.

Niek Takes – Netherlands – General Magic
A jester character juggling ping pongs from his hat. Awkward card manipulation with skeleton cards – dramatic music – and me thinking ‘how very strange’ … Thankfully nice and short.

Lee Chang Min – Korea - Manipulation
Butterfly from tree, slow beautiful vanishes, holographic cards, with rain sound effects and cards forming a rainbow before our eyes. Visual eye candy with a slow dissolve of a card ‘into’ his shirt. A magician pleaser!

A quick interlude at this point. The stage set is phenomenal Giant LED screens are projecting custom graphic backdrops for each of the acts … it looks fantastic.

Cyril Delaire – France – General Magic

Bird to ceiling, bird duplication, bird from glass, salt to bird, bird cage production, cane to confetti to … wait for it … another bird, another cage production, more bird cages … and yes, more birds. Magicians REALLY need to wake up that it just isn’t socially acceptable to be stuffing wild life into tiny little pockets for your enjoyment. But more on that later.

Ran Gafner – Israel – Mentalism

Painful generic mentalism. Music influences us. Choose a color. This bell matches the color. Guess the color of the bell. Switch the bells around. Choose four books with a song from a movie. Performers – why on earth should we possibly care ? It’s contrived, it’s gimmicky and so insincere. And if you using volunteers – please don’t leave your 4 volunteers stranded on stage at the end.

Dakris – Spain – General Magic

Cane & top hat with single card manipulation and Fantasio vanishing candle ( do they still make those ? ) Zombie hat stand and silk in lightbulb. We just a needed a snow storm to round out our list of ‘fism favourites’ ;-)

Javier Luxor – Spain – Mentalism

Painful generic mentalist take 2. Choose a celebrity from this specially selected array of magazines. Choose a city from this stack of postcards I happen to have. Write down your random piece of information on my specially prepared notepad. Are lay audiences seriously buying this in 2015 ? And to end “I hope you like it. I enjoyed it a lot”

Benny Li – Hong Kong – General Magic

Torn and restored letter with card manipulation – some beautiful cascades – and animated restoration. Some visual eye candy to keep the magicians happy ;-)

Disguido – Italy – Comedy Magic

Last time I checked this was a magic contest … a non-funny act subjecting us to ridiculous chapeaugraphy with a loose cinema theme.

Sami Matoshi – Mentalism – Albania

Unfortunately the mindreaders in the audience already predicted that Albania and mentalism was probably not going to be a good match for today … Our first red light. Relying on a translator for something as ‘nuanced’ as mentalism is very tricky … made all the worse when your predictions are off from the outset.

Ernesto Planas – Italy – General Magic
A ballroom dancing Casanova with diamond broach, earrings and bejewelled fingers ( it reminded me of liberace doing the tango ) Umbrellas, umbrellas, and more umbrellas. Did I mention there were umbrellas ? A grown man producing lots of pretty parasols … different.

Anca & Lucca – Austria – Mentalism
Anca & Lucca started their act before the contest even started by taking an ad out in the official program announcing they would pay anyone 1 million Euros if they could prove that anything they did was accomplished using electronics or the like. Now that’s self promotion ;-)

This second sight act had a playful edge with Anca demonstrating to Lucca that her talents are in fact ‘real mindreading’ and effectively discounting the methods magicians may believe them to be using. Whilst her revelations were all spot on – the act seemed to lose some of its ‘punch’ that I would have expected it to have.

Kim Young Ju – Korea – Comedy Magic
Cigar boxes, appearing boxes, juggling antics, applause signs and more.

Collin – Germany – Mentalism
Mentalism is proving to be popular. And this time I get to be on stage for the ping pong fun. Who would I have thought I would get to demonstrate my sporting prowess in front of 2000+ magicians ;-) But I digress. Ping pong lottery balls are handed out to the front first rows – who are to then pelt the stage with them whilst trying to get them into the ‘lotto ball machine’ to determine the random lotto numbers. My job is to hit the errant balls back into the audience. Wimbledon here I come. Needless to say Mr Mentalist got the prediction spot on. An entertaining act … that certainly came across as very fair and clean.

Bruno Tarnecci – Peru – General Magic
A ‘Yann-Frisch’ type character who stood on a chair and leaped from book to book scattered across the floor ala stepping stones. Zero idea as to what took place as everything happened on the floor. Note to performer – we can’t see the magic if you do it on the floor in the cavernous theatre. Just a thought.

Kento Mukai – Japan – Manipulation
A techno anime pop soundtrack ( I think I just created a new genre) with flip paddle moves, clock inspired motif and cardboard cogs to pocket watch. Strange and different.

Dorian Grey – France – General Magic
Picture a Santa Fe ‘Wild West’ saloon and someone looking like one of the 3 Amigos doing dove magic. After losing a bird or two to the ceiling & coming close to incinerating another – the judges red lit the act for the inhumane treatment of animals. Give up the doves people! It’s cruel and inhumane.

19 acts down and the marathon first stage session comes to an end. Certainly no show stoppers … the search continues for our next World Champion.

Hurry back now … the Opening Gala Show starts in just 20 minutes. Or so we thought.

FISM Stage Gala show

It’s 20 minutes to show time and its déjà vu. We’re nowhere near ready. Crews are hanging lights, frantically testing CGI and multiple conflicting announcements are being made as to who must sit where …

All the production value in the world cannot compensate for lack of preparation – and I hate to say it, but despite their best intentions they are in under their heads. 2 pm comes and goes. 2:30 pm comes and goes and still we sit and wait.

This isn’t a mickey mouse production with limited resource but a MEGA BUDGET event that is most certainly not resource constrained.

You can have all the flash you want but nothing excuses a gala show starting 60 minutes late. The audience is upset and their tensions are only going to worsen.

Between the slow claps and whistles – the show eventually gets underway to an intergalactic space backdrop and dramatic Carmina-Burana piece. Video footage of the FISM timeline appears on the jumbo screens along with a somewhat poorly timed video ( under the present circumstances ) of the Masters of Magic folk again promising the ‘best FISM ever’

Walter Rolfo appears centre stage with pulsating music and pumping air cannons – welcoming us to the now severely delayed show …

Society presidents are introduced ( the average age is worrying ! ) and poor Domenico Dante, FISM President, commences his speech. It is now 3:30 pm … the audience have been waiting for 90 minutes and still no magic.

Domenico is in a no win situation and attempts to convey his somewhat lengthy speech in all official languages. The crowds jeer. They boo … and we even have one dear soul walk on stage from the audience to attempt to convince Domenico to call it quits. To no avail. Security bounds across the stage after our ‘intruder’ whilst Walter Rolfo even comes out himself to provide Domenico with a graceful exit … Domenico unfortunately chooses to persevere and endure the hostility.

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We are now close to 100 minutes since the scheduled start time and STILL no magic.

First act to kick off in very difficult circumstances is local legend Silvan.

Unfortunately legends need to learn when to bow out gracefully. There is something inherently wrong with an 80 year old man with dyed hair surrounding himself with scantily clad young women taken out of a starring role in “50 Shades of Grey” ( or was that “Eyes Wide Shut”) along with moustached assistants in 1970’s sequin waist coats. Boogie nights meets FISM. He can so easily be seen to be coming across as lecherous. And the sub-par manipulation flashed in ultra HD glory on the jumbo screens does nothing to preserve the memory.

In kicking contrast we end the display to the jarring sounds of Avicii.

By all means honour past masters – but lets not become blind to the realities. Just because they can physically do their act from 50 years ago – does not mean it is a good idea for them to do so. Obligatory standing ovation follows.

I shudder to think what a TV viewer at home would think. But I digress …

Max Maven joins forces with Luis de Matos for a great piece of light hearted fun that was just right for the show and circumstances. Max is a consummate pro.

Finn Jon follows – and whilst he unfortunately is missing his harem – he treats us to a thumb tip silk vanish and floating smoke filled bubbles. Yes – it is a classic act. Yes – he is one of the past masters. But again – lets preserve the memory of our legends and let them be. Honour them by all means – but I honestly believe we can find another way of doing it rather making them redo their acts from 40 years ago with not always ideal results. Obligatory standing ovation follows.

Xavier Mortimer – star of the incredible MJ One show in Vegas – comes to Rimini with his classic FISM act that sees him interact with a digital shadow of himself and a 3 piece ‘projection’ band behind – ending with an impressive full 360 revolution / levitation. Xavier is a highly creative performer and always a joy to see his work.

In contrast to all the technology, Paul Daniels arrives on stage with nothing more than a chop cup, wit as sharp as ever – and cute kid from front row to act as evil nemesis. Paul brings the house down and would have loved to have seen him MC the show – and what else he would have brought to proceedings.

Our second to last performance is Magus Utopia ( aka Marcel Prince of Illusions ) and their FISM winning act along with a few new additions. Between the flame throwers, air cannons and other serious tech behind them– the act took on a whole new level of intensity but unfortunately the one production was exposed ( Marcel quite literally climbed out of the base in full view ) due to a misfiring pyro. Despite the misstep – the act is smooth and oh so polished … and straight out of something from Cirque du Soleil.

And to end the marathon show – is star of Broadways’ The Illusionists – Yu Ho Jin. What can be said about this masterful performer that has not already been written ? His performance is impactful. His moves graceful and his magic joyful. Bravo!

And so ends the FISM Opening Gala Show.

Opportunity for a break ? Not for the magic junkies ... the Close-up contest starts in less than an hour.

FISM is go, go, go …


If all the money was spent on stage – it's very clear that close-up is the poor cousin at FISM Italy.

There’s no sense of occasion. No excitement. No production value. If we want the World Championships of Magic to have prestige – we need to start treating it as such – and give the close-up artists the environment they deserve.

Joan Caesar is walking around without shoes … Obie is looking tired … and no one bothers to even close the backdrop curtain behind the performers.

The onscreen visuals are substandard for an event of this calibre with no one bothering to locate the white balance or exposure functionality on the cameras – as a result, cards are washed out, the top of the table is often out of view – and we have no one doing any qualified vision mixing. To add to the mix we have about 4 cameras on stage with everyone seemingly doing their own thing.

How is it possible that no one else has thought to check that we are able to see the playing cards on screen ? I sound like a broken record. But this is the World Championships of Magic. FISM deserves the best. First time – every time. Well intentioned volunteers are all very nice – but when the same people have been running the close-up contests the same way for years on end – this comes as no surprise. It’s time to innovate. The Close-up contest needs a technical and stage director just as much as the stage contest next door. The artists have spent years honing their acts – let’s give them the respect we deserve

On to the magic !

Semba – Parlor Invention - Argentina
Bizarre. Not quite sure exactly what the inventions were here … a card sword balloon and blowing up a balloon which turns out to be filled with helium ?

Mario Bove – Cards – Italy
Finding the aces, cards ending up in new deck order, long and laborious and wouldn’t it be nice if we could actually see the table. Exposure setting anyone ?

Side point – the venue setup is problematic if the judges - metres away - are ending up watching the screens themselves.

Jinie Brigina – Micro – France
One of the few female competitors – broken heel, mini cards to big cards, coin matrix, I love you Boris Wild-esque Kiss cards and coin matrix. Ho hum.

Intiki [censored] – Parlor – Japan
Bank teller holding up his volunteers, signed bill switching places, laundering money with mini washing machine and ending with bill in Polaroid. All very strange.

David Redondo – Spain – Micro Magic
Dealt with the theme of coins and imitations, copies of coins printed on playing cards, coin matrix, vanishing coins, coin purses and more of the same. This is FISM – you need to work to keep my attention. The audience is tired.

Wolfgang Moser – Parlor – Austria
The classic magic kettle and any drink called for ending with a never ending cascade of sugar. Fun and entertaining.

Michael Dardant – USA – Micro
Having seen Michael’s act at IBM SAM – I was not looking forward to it. But he surprisingly engaged well with the audience and his ‘in-magician’ jokes were all the funnier with Shawn Farquhar himself as on-stage volunteer. Some light hearted humour is just what the crowds had ordered it seems.

Daniel Mormina – Argentina – Micro
Matrix with thundering music, all very dramatic ending with a bowl of water production and a miniature bicycle riding along the close-up mat. Some creative ideas.

Hugo Maximilliano – Spain - Cards
Signed aces and sevens change places multiple times. With the poor camera work – hard to appreciate much of the card work 

Emil Dragan – Romania – Cards
Casino theme with poker table, color changing poker chips, jumbo die, jumbo poker chips ( what a surprise ) and appearing roulette wheel.

Luis Olmedo – Spain – Cards
Deck turns into jokers, aces to jokers, cards through table, visual eye candy, jokers back to normal deck and back to jokers ending with a rainbow deck.

Looking Magic – Spain – Parlor Invention
Canned applause on the soundtrack. Chop cup and exceptionally worrying when you don’t know what the invention is supposed to be. Ends with a color changing waist coat and shoes to match the balls.

Bill – Cards – Austria
The dream wizard – with cards returning to new deck order, cards changing to selected card, and any card called for rising from a deck.

DK – Micro Magic – Korea
Pure magicians delight. Cups and balls done behind a shadow screen with things literally disintegrating before your very eyes. Highly visual – creative and different. So refreshing to see! This is the creativity that FISM thrives on. Ends with the kicker of the ball vanishing down a real life cartoon “acme” hole !

Jacob Mathias – Parlor – Germany
Clearly a popular competitor with a Coke themed cups and balls routine with a simply stunning moment of a ball literally floating upwards. Lots of transpositions ending with a complete costume change to match the Fanta revelation.

And that’s the first of the close-up session for Monday 6th July. What an exhausting day … and for some the party is just getting started as the activities continue well into the night.

Can’t wait to see what Day 2 will bring!
Last edited by CraigMitchell on July 7th, 2015, 2:24 pm, edited 7 times in total.

Ted M
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Re: FISM Day 1

Postby Ted M » July 6th, 2015, 11:31 am


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Richard Kaufman
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Re: FISM Day 1

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 6th, 2015, 5:51 pm

Craig loves to stir the pot.

Here's what happened: the opening Gala show did indeed start 45 minutes late (which I am told is the custom in Italy). The audience made some clapping noises to show their dissatisfaction. To me it appeared that they were having technical issues since one of the lighting rigs wasn't raised into position yet.

FISM organizer Walter Rolfo made a very nice speech--just a little too long.

FISM President Domenico Dante had a rather long speech which the FISM bylaws required (he said) to be read in all four official FISM languages. Considering the show was now one hour late and the first act had yet to come on, this was met with rather rude whistles, clapping, etc. I think Domenico made a bad choice but felt compelled to follow the rules. The timing was wrong. Otto Wesley climbed out of the audience onto the stage and attempted to convey the audience's feelings to Domenico, and he was chased off by security guards (all very strange). Walter Rolfo then came out on stage and attempted to spare us from the third reading in a foreign language of the speech, but he was unsuccessful,

After Domenico finished, the show began. And what a hell of a great show it was. One of the best Gala shows at any convention. So many standing ovations!

Yes, the tech problems at the beginning were unfortunate, but I didn't see anyone in the audience who wasn't on their feet at the end, having seen a fantastic show. The production values were all that Walter promised to us on the ICC Committee: huge video screens, flashy production values, flame throwers, fireworks, you name it. Streamers, confetti-I've never seen anything of this level of production value at a magic convention.

I'm very much looking forward to day 2.
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FISM Day 1

Postby Yann SICAMOIS » July 16th, 2015, 1:03 pm

Otto climbed to offer his help with the german bit of the speech.

And thanks for the reports, I was there but had to make choices. These were lectures and sleep so I missed a lot of contest bits.

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