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SXSW Film Festival-2K7: Tiptoeing Through The Tulips
by: Dony Wynn

Every time of the year when the SXSW Film Festival rolls around I find myself getting itchy, extra geezy, in fact. Just think, a solid week in which escape into the ether of another’s celluloid spin becomes my reality; a glorious, welcome respite from the rigors of the daily grind; a golden opportunity to giggle, titter, squirm, shout, cry, shudder and tremble before big-screen images and THX sounds which, in turn, burn themselves permanently into the recessed fissures of your medulla oblongata. Yeah, like that. …Itchy, I tell you, dear reader, plumb itchy...
More and more I find myself drawn to the medium of documentary, feeling less and less satisfied with the fictional narrative structure as a multitude of those who toil in that medium these days don’t seem to remember, or know or care what constitutes a story, much less a proper ending! Having two hours of your life wasted on such ill-conceived dribble and dreck is nothing short of maddening beyond measure, so I’m very careful which movies I actually deign see; very selective in that regard. Documentaries, on the contrary, seem to be getting better and better courtesy of a new evolvement of international filmmaker who mines incredibly obscure nuggets. Rather than choosing the safe, more universally acceptable, accessible subjects, the new documentarian isn’t afraid to go to extraordinary lengths to bring you the peculiar, the strange, the bewildering, the beguiling, the pitiable, the downright fucking scary as well as the in your face obtuse, and then crank a heart tugging, uplifting, enlightening story from their efforts which, in many cases, take several years to bring to fruition. How far out is that?! Only the driven, the utterly compelled, are willing to go to such exhaustive lengths to satisfy their muse and thank God for ’em. This example of documentary filmmaking was in generous supply at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, happy to say, and the icing on the cake? My ass was, once again, in attendance, present and accounted for. Oh yeah…
I tend to look at SXSW Film Festival as a moveable feast, many courses consumed over a period of days in a variety of settings, and so, that said, the bountiful buffet laid out before me, I sharpened my cutlery, stuffed a napkin down my shirt, and dove in face first with the gluttony of a starving piglet.
First one up was “Fall From Grace”, a rather disturbing look into the world of evangelical minister Fred Phelps, he of the Topeka, Kansas based Westboro Baptist Church, a congregation who specialize in the unrelenting and unrepentant attack on homosexuality, a scourge Rev. Phelps espouses caused America to incur God’s wrath via 911 because we are a nation who openly tolerates “fags”. Watching this movie is about as close as I’d ever want to get to Rev. Phelps and his flock, who, not so ironically, are mainly comprised of his extended family. Their single minded hatred was a bit hard to bear, especially watching the contorted faces of the children of his congregation spouting the same hate-filled jargon and catch phrases that are crammed into their psyche all day every day by their parents and pastor, yet not having a clue of what they speak, obvioused by their confused, blank looks and nothing forthcoming when probed a bit further by the filmmaker immediately after a specifically worded, vitriolic rant, which -even though I’m no Freud- fare you well reeked of ritualistic brainwashing; tragic, I tell you, these young lives perverted by adults who’ve apparently lost the plot. From a purely technical point of view the film struck me as rather amateurish at times, but still, the subject matter itself was entirely riveting and the filmmaker did balance all the vile rhetoric with views from others much more knowledgeable in the field who were able to dissect Rev. Phelps’ rants and show just how off base he and his followers truly are. In the Q&A afterwards it was interesting to hear the filmmaker recalling when Rev. Phelps and his congregation viewed the completed movie with him for the first time, saying they were quite pleased as they felt the only important thing was for their message to be spread by any means possible. Can you say seriously affected?! I went home immediately after viewing this movie, my head spinning, my heart troubled.
Needing some lighter fare to wash away the vulgarity of the night before, next morning I strolled over to the Paramount to view “Doubletime”, a documentary about the world of competitive rope jumping. I must admit that prior to this film I didn’t have a clue this sport even existed. What I witnessed blew my mind. I hadn’t any idea of the precision and speed and acrobatics that now infiltrate this -what I remember- schoolyard pastime. Like I felt when first encountering break dancing in days of yore, I was left slack jawed by what the film showed the human body capable. Simply put, awesome. The filmmaker targeted two teams, one inner city black and one suburban white, both from the South, as they trained for a special competition at the famed Apollo Theater in NYC where they would be pitted against teams from all over the world. Watching the team from Tokyo practicing was worth the price of admission alone, as they simply dazzled with all sort of martial arts moves and flips, almost incomprehensible to the naked eye. This film was very moving, wonderfully edited, a definite feel good flick, as I watched these youngsters stretch their horizons of what is possible if you believe in yourself and work hard. And their coaches, too, provided wonderful leadership and guidance and support. Neither team won the grand prize at the Apollo, but they were all winners in the end. I noticed many in attendance who reacted as I did, wiping moist eyes as they departed the theater, moved by the joy and triumph of the human spirit.
Later I joined some friends in from out of town who religiously attend the film festival every year. We gathered to view, “Run Granny Run”. This film was based upon the latter day exploits of a very courageous woman, Doris “Granny D” Haddock, a Vermont native now in her mid to upper nineties, one would suppose, who has more than a few things up her sleeves she could certainly teach many younger than she. At age 90, for instance, she walked across the entire width of America to rally attention to the undue influence of big money on our political elections. This woman, after losing her husband, was searching for purpose in her life and decided to get involved because of what she saw as the crumbling of our democracy at the hands of corporate lobbyists and the politicians who line their pockets. So much so, at age 94 she launches a grassroots campaign, running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. She assembles a motley group of advisors, both professionals and amateurs, and does her best to bring back what she feels is important to America as a whole, true democracy working for and by the people. Up against the typical money fueled campaign of today, she is dogged in her determination and represents the ideals upon which this country was founded, exercising a ton of grit and common sense while her insipid, vacuous, political opponents show her nothing but smarmy condescension. This woman displayed tremendous courage and wisdom at every crook and turn during her campaign yet eventually loses the election, but not her soul, nor her heart. Quite simply one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever beholden. And by the spunkiness she showed in the Q&A that followed, Granny D is far from done, too. Righteous to the bone.
Got the next day started with “One More Hit”, a documentary about the trials and tribulations of one, J Swift, a record producer and member of the ground breaking rap group, Pharcyde. Apparently the filmmaker, Shauna Garr, was friends with Swift in the day and was shocked to find him living under a tree in Hollywood many years later, hopelessly addicted to crack. I will say this, this woman showed the patience and persistence of Job. She goes well beyond the call of duty to get this guy some help, even brokering a reality show for him to get back on his feet (which goes horribly wrong when the producers buy him more and more crack to complete numerous takes), several trips to counseling and rehab, and countless introductions to folks in the biz who were willing to give him a second chance based upon his formidable, musical talent. I’ve never seen a guy so gifted and yet so fucked up. This guy gets chance after chance after chance after chance to get back on top, even cleaning up for a while and working on a great new record, but before it’s released, yep, he disappears for months and is found again, under another tree in Hollywood. Tragic story. Man wants to make music. Lives for music. It is his savior. But the allure of crack is stronger and begets yet another music business casualty. Bummer. Story reads like a worn out skipping record, great documentary though.
I walked into the Paramount and a short film was playing I wasn’t expecting, a music video of sorts. The music was artfully sung by a woman named Angela McCluskey. The song was “Autumn in New York”, the title of the piece, too. The film was a series of shots set against Central Park in the full bloom of autumn, all quite breathtaking, making me fall in love with New York City all over again. I was totally knocked out by this flick. What followed was equally as good, both done by photographer, Bruce Weber.
“Let’s Get Lost” is a beautiful movie about a beautiful man, Chet Baker. We get to know Chet present day in a series of staged interviews and photo shoots, hanging out with Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame at The Frolic Room in Hollywood in one, always smoking, always drinking, talking in his soft, mellifluous voice as if he really isn’t part of the human race at all, existing in a separate parallel universe from the rest of humanity. There was some outstanding archival footage of him in his heyday, before he tragically turned to a life of junk. And he was also brought into a recording studio to sing on some new recordings with his longtime pianist, still sounding genius, if looking a bit worse for the wear. So serene. So troubled. So gifted. So sad. So moving. So real. There were also interviews with some of the women who played prominent roles in his life. All of them were still in love with him, even though he wouldn’t be called the world’s most trusted lover or confidante by any stretch. But all throughout the movie it’s obvious he exudes an animal magnetism and beautiful, mysterious women are drawn to him, and he seems to completely immerse in their presence, too, totally given to them in that moment. A most intriguing man. A beautiful movie. A retrospective at this festival, “Let’s Get Lost” won the 1989 Critics Prize at The Venice Film Festival. I’m glad SXSW brought this one back. In a word, splendiferous…
I hiked over to the Alamo Downtown to see my next film, one I was really looking forward to especially after reading the online synopsis; a documentary entitled “Dirty Country”. Larry Pierce is a small town Midwestern plant worker and part time musician. One day he writes a song to amuse himself, a really dirty one. The next time he plays a show for his friends in his garage he plays them the dirty song and they go crazy for it. Larry seizes manifest destiny and continues to write more and more of these dirty country songs, and when I say dirty, imagine graphic recounting of every type of sex act known to man set to country music and you’ll get a good idea where Sir Larry lives. Well, fast-forward several years later and Larry is now a bona fide underground music legend to truckers nationwide as that’s where his recordings are sold, at truck stops all over the country. This film is hilarious because Larry is just your average joe who’s stumbled onto something that everyone -and I mean EVERYONE- seems to want. Several musical historians are interviewed and they impart bawdy songs have been with us since the beginning of music and Larry and others are just following in the grand tradition. Several other performers of dirty songs are featured in this movie, too, bolstering the historian’s proclamations, from Blowfly to Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts, and others. But back to Larry… Eventually the plant forces Larry into an early retirement where he faces an uncertain future. About this time the directors pair him with another dirty song group, “Itis”, a rock band who are huge admirers of Larry’s work. Since Itis has a following all over the country and tour year round, they eventually meet at Larry’s garage where we witness a true friendship being born. Well, since Larry has never performed on a stage before, and all of Itis’ fans are also Larry fans, I guess you can see where the film goes next. Watching Larry onstage, backed by Itis, with hundreds of screaming fans singing along to all his songs is a total hoot and tickled the shit out of me. Itis and Larry continue to tour together when they can, performing at The Fox and Hound right after the screening, in fact. The Q&A afterwards was equally fun with Larry and his adoring wife and Itis all in tow. Larry closed the Q&A with his standard departing call, howling a resounding, at the top of his lungs, “Pussy!” which fare you well rattled the theater’s rafters. Ah yes. Such a night….
I closed the evening by seeing my first narrative feature, a midnite showing of “Butterfly: A Grimm Love Story”. Admittedly morbid curiosity got the best of me as the movie was based on a real event that recently took place in Germany where a man wrote in a strange sex chat room that he desired to eat a person, and he welcomed anyone who was interested in being eaten. Well, I’ll be damned if some guy responded to the fellow’s post and they actually went through with the whole enchilada… sorry, couldn’t resist. This film was shot very well; it had a most distinct look, and was well acted, too. But, and this is where I got some serious beefs, I’m engaged, pulled along by the story, and then WHAMMO! the movie abruptly ends without any resolve or anything even remotely resembling an ending. Consider me madder than a pissed on monkey! Two hours of my life wasted! Bug fugum! I was reminded days later of a conversation in the movie “Helvetica” (seen the next day), where a designer remarked that with computers everyone has access to fonts and design materials, but even with these tools they can only now truly appreciate the designer and his ability, his role, his stock in trade. The same thing applies to both film and music, too, as software to make both is readily available to anyone with a computer. But again, without the talent and the vision, you very well might get bupkiss. Style over substance, usually. And this movie reminded me of that. Great look. Decent acting. No fucking ending! Like Clinton stated, “It’s the economy stupid”, and I say, “It’s the story, stupid”. If you can’t tell one, go find something you can do to seriously help mankind. I’ll never get those two hours back and the filmmaker was damn lucky he wasn’t in attendance. If so I very well might’ve reverted to wolf from my current shepherd status and throttled his ass. Just for starters. ‘Nuff said….
There was already a buzz on the street about “Cat Dancers” before I attended next morning. Afterwards, I knew why the buzz existed. “Cat Dancers” is the story of Ron and Joy Holiday, two dancers -teenage sweethearts actually- who migrate to NYC and eventually achieve worldwide fame and renown in their specific field of dance, and then, before there was a Siegfried and Roy, they followed their muse a bit further and began an exotic cat routine which brought them yet another wave of fame and fortune, and ultimately disaster, too. It became apparent early on that this was a tale of love and devotion, a most unusual one at that. Along the way the couple bring another younger man into their routine, Chuck Lizza, and he is drawn into their love, and quite literally, too, eventually having a very open affair with the both of them. In Ron’s words, it was the greatest time of his life, having not only this beautiful love with both his wife and this young man, but also the love and respect of all the animals under their stewardship and care. At some point, at Chuck’s insistence, they bring a white tiger into their fold and even though Ron is skeptical, knowing the very real possibility of inbreeding with these rare cats, he too falls in love with the new arrival. Years later disaster strikes, Chuck accidentally falling on the cat one day and the cat reacting, quickly ending Chuck’s life right in front of Ron. This horrible event, coupled with one of Joy’s favorite cats dying, too, sends her into a grave depression, refusing food, bringing her to death’s door as Ron helplessly watches his wife shrink, disappearing before his very eyes. One day they venture forth from the house to go walk the grounds and spend time with all their brood. Ron takes this as a good sign. When visiting the white tiger, again, accidentally and tragically, Joy’s life is swiftly taken by the tiger, too, and again, right in front of Ron. Ron understood in that instant the cat was indeed inbred, but doesn’t hold it against him, recounting how sad and upset the tiger was immediately afterwards knowing full and well what he’d done. As a matter of fact, Ron doesn’t regret one day, not one minute of one day of his remarkable life, but there is a palpable sadness that envelopes him as he recounts his adventures and this is made manifest when he finally breaks down, unveiling that in ten years time he wants to retire to a famous monastery in Thailand where the monks live freely amongst wild tigers, and that is where he will finish his days. A touching, beautiful, yet unusual love story, one I’m fortunate to have seen courtesy of the years of tireless research which went into this film. Remarkable people doing remarkable things, living their life to the fullest, is a rewarding thing to witness and partake.
Next I sauntered over to the Alamo Downtown to see “Hell on Wheels”, a documentary based in Austin where some tattooed love girls -who wanted a bit more excitement in their lives- went about organizing a league of Roller Derby teams, a sport long absent from the public arena. I got all the thrills, chills, spills and catfights I expected, but I also got a huge dose of what I didn’t expect as well, and it was this revelation that made the film hugely satisfying. The human ego is a fragile thing to witness in action, and in this film -and this is when the movie took a definite left turn- you watch as the women who started the league exercise a bit too much control at a crucial juncture which makes the players balk, then ultimately exit to form their own league. The meetings between the two factions are intense, even moreso than the action at the oval, which is admittedly a rollicking, balls to the wall slice of entertainment. And if you don’t think the action is real, watch as several of the women have violent accidents whilst in the throes of competition, compound fractures left and right. Yikes! The premiere was attended by many of the Roller Derby girls themselves and it was fun watching with them, hearing them cheering at specific moments when persistence and working together triumphed over adversity. At the end a graphic showed just how powerful these gals were in promoting this long dead sport whereby hundreds of Roller Derby leagues are now scattered quite literally all over the world. “Hell on Wheels” is a dramatic tale of tough women, pioneering spirits, too cool.
A documentary is usually based on some very colorful characters or an unusual situation, so imagine my curiosity of a film solely based on a singular font, “Helvetica”. I’d already been turned away once trying to see this film and was equally surprised that the third showing at the Convention Center Theater was packed to the gills, too. What could be so compelling about this flick, thought I? Still curious before the start of the film I turned to the couple next to me and asked them why they’d decided to attend this movie. Well, first off, they were filmmakers, but they, too, were like me and curious how good a movie can be based upon a font, of all things? The lights invariably went down and we soon found out just how good. The film absolutely blew me away. We got to know the history of how Helvetica came into being, a product of the modernist art movement in the 50’s, developed by a special design group in Switzerland. It boggled the mind seeing just how ubiquitous this font actually is, as you’re taken all over the world in a dizzying set of collages and every sign, every advertisement everywhere carries the Helvetica font. We are totally bombarded by it daily and don’t know it! The filmmaker targeted specific design groups of renown at various locales around the world to get their take on this unique font, Helvetica. All of them gave us interesting insights, but across the board all were just wowed by its absolute sheer perfection. Apparently, many over the years have sought to improve it, even slightly, all with non-results. The damn thing is just perfection to the core! I was totally entertained and educated by this movie, a hard combo to accomplish. The music, in particular, was excellent and framed the flick’s visual montage perfectly. I exited the theater invigorated, and to think, all from a friggin’ font!
Next up was a film that completely creeped me out. “Confessions of a Superhero” is a documentary that chronicles four individuals who spend their lives wearing the superhero outfit of their choice while holding court at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, posing for pictures with tourists and accepting tips, their livelihood, in return. We, the viewing audience, were privy to the heretofore-private lives of Superman, Batman, The Hulk, and Wonder Woman, and the film wasn’t at all what I expected. At all… Let the creepification begin! Not so slowly we get to know each person behind the superhero costume, and what we find is incredibly sad as well as incredibly creepy. The Superman person is totally besotted with everything Superman. Every square inch of his squalid Hollywood apartment is covered in Superman memorabilia. EVERY SQUARE INCH! He claims (with a straight face) his collection is worth well over a million dollars. In front of the mirror he spends hours getting the curl on his forehead just right ala the Christopher Reeve version. He dates a shrink (they marry in the movie at a Superman convention in the Midwest, and yeah, he’s wearing his get up in the ceremony) Scary only begins to sum this guy up. Consumed another. Batman is another twisted case of bizarro. He fancies himself a bad man who’s done more than his fair share of badness. While in costume he tells his shrink that he’s killed several people, all unsolved, while the shrink can hardly believe what he’s hearing, telling the man that there is no statute of limitations on murder. The man is whacked, fancies himself a George Clooney look-alike and is always on the edge, the cops called on him several times from frightened tourists during the filming. One could say the man’s got some anger issues, amongst other things. The Hulk is incredibly depressing. He’s a country black man from South Carolina who wants nothing more than to be in Hollywood in the film business. The man has no talent whatsoever. He finally lands a part in a remake of some 70’s blaxploitation movie, playing…. yeah, you guessed it, a superfly pimp, which has him excited beyond belief. Watching him clump around in his ridiculous costume doesn’t help matters, either. In short, pitiful. Wonder Woman is a cute thing from Tennessee, but seems to be incredibly clueless, marrying someone she’s known for a couple of weeks, confused when it doesn’t work out months later, meeting with her acting coach who dispenses the most mindless psycho-babble, empty, meaningless pap, which she gobbles up like bleeding prime rib on Sunday. In a word, these people are all seriously DELUDED! I’d heard they were all in town during the film’s initial screenings, all in costume, no less (like we would expect any different, right?). I’m glad they weren’t at my screening, as I don’t know if I would’ve laughed as loud as I did at every cringing moment of their on-screen delusion. Wonderfully weird documentary. Creepy subjects.
I got off to a great start the next day when I showed up at The Alamo South (let’s hear it for our incredible Alamo Theaters!!!!!!!!!) to see an odd little film called “Fish Kills Flea”. The story takes place at an abandoned mall in upstate New York, in a town called Fish Kills. The once thriving and bustling mall falls prey to a bigger better mall that opens on the other side of town and closes. In its place a ragtag flea market opens up run by a guy who fancies himself a Mafia Don, or some such, complete with big cigar and menacing, unsmiling, sunglass wearing henchmen who silently follow him around as he makes his “collections”. I sat dumbstruck in this amazing film, watching in horror the decay of American civilization, capitalism at the end of its rope. The folks who sold goods in the market were all off kilter, sad and desperate, and the people who came to the flea market all walked around like shopaholic zombies, rutting through the junk the vendors were selling as if they were programmed to show up at this place regardless of what was there. Eventually the flea market folds, the vendors scattering to the hinterlands as the owner is unable to negotiate a new deal to move everyone to another location, even though he told the vendors weeks before he’d signed a contract with another closed mall, giving them all hollow guarantees, or as I might call it, a fucking LIE. In its place a Home Depot is scheduled to be erected, yet another example of good ole’ American capitalism running amuck. Watching this film was like watching The Apocalypse, The End of the American Dream. The film was beautifully shot, however, each frame an exquisite photograph. Imagine my surprise during the Q&A where the director told how compassionate he was for the people he shot, how much he cared about them. I thought he was taking the piss but he went on and on about what wonderful people they were and how much he liked them, prompting me to engage him at the close of the Q&A. I told him his compassion struck me as odd, first expressing my feelings about the film then telling him I was reminded of the Robert Frank photography book, “The Americans”, where even though those photos showed a squalid America sifting through the debris of what was left, there was at least a feeling, a hope, that all was gonna get better by virtue of the trust that everyone who puts forth effort will in fact achieve the ideals of the American Dream, but in my mind, his film was like the bookend to the Frank book, showing America on its last legs after capitalism and the corporatization of America had run its final course. The director appreciated my take on it and said as much, especially digging the Frank connection. I lauded him for his endeavors and walked away feeling like I’d just seen a great and important film chronicling the decline of America.
As luck would have it I got to keep my same seat for the next movie. Having a bit of time to spare I was visiting with some folks in the lobby where one festival patron warned the next film in my crosshairs was brutal in nature. The documentary in question is “Campaign”, the saga of an upwardly mobile Japanese man who is chosen to represent his district and run for what is akin to city councilman. The movie was brutal in that it lingered “waaay” longer than most films would have in one scene after another of his tirelessly campaigning, and mostly to people who completely ignored him, if there were any people at all. He’d quickly set up his poster and a banner in the most innocuous of places, set his little speaker close by, grab his microphone and begin to recite party jabber about how he was going to continue the reforms his party had initiated, over and over and over and over and over again, ad nauseum. The man was nothing short of loyal, and I even had the feeling he truly believed in what he was doing. All I got to say is I’m glad I live in America, where even though our politics are the stuff of nightmares, this movie was chilling in what it unveiled about Japan and its way of life. If he did anything out of line, not looking a man in the eye long enough when shaking hands and bowing twenty times, for instance, he was scolded, curtly reprimanded by his party elders. And for the most part, the party elders stayed deep in the man’s ass, where he would go to bowing a hundred times and apologizing profusely for some of the most inane bullshit of which he was accused. Really sad this. In the end, although a close race, the man wins the election, but is late for his victory party where once again party elders get in his ass and tell him over and over again how indebted he is to them and he’d better not forget that fact. Like I said, chilling, soulless, and brutal. I’m glad I live in America yet I love visiting Japan. I find the country and its inhabitants to be incredibly interesting and beautiful, but those folks are squeezed into patterns of very unusual behavior. They are driven like slogged beasts by their own culture. Woo hoo! Brutal movie, yeah, but perversely enjoyable nonetheless.
Next movie up was a hard choice. I’d been told that “Audience of One” was outtasite and right up my alley, but I’d also read of this quirky movie called “Frownland”, and what I’d read intrigued me to no end. The movies were both playing one last time and unfortunately times overlapped. In the end I chose to see “Frownland”, my curiosity piqued even more when I watched the clip online, which was as bizarre a clip for a movie as I’ve ever seen. Very Lynchian, and this bode well (but not shown in the actual movie, which only adds to my ultimate confusion). After viewing it I’m still unsure of what I think about this film. It was a narrative feature, and kinda told a story, I guess. You had a guy who was seriously afflicted, seemingly unable to communicate on any level. A girl who was mysteriously misaligned, prone to injuring herself, seeking his company for some reason of which I’m still unsure. His roommate was this total dick electronic music composer. Totally fucked. All of them were totally fucked and inextricably linked. In the end, girl disappears, roommate tells idiot what he thinks about him, idiot totally flips out and goes on this bizarre destructive evening. He wakes up in the morning, walks on a rooftop and pees. The End. The Q&A was even more bizarre. The director went off in some very esoteric explanations of why and what and none of it made the least bit of sense to me. The jury is still out on this one, and may be permanently. Ironically -at least to me- this film won the Special Jury Award. Go figure.
My final movie of this year’s SXSW Film Festival was a hoot and a holler rolled into one. Yet another midnite show at the Alamo Downtown. When entering there was a rather festive mood in the air, all brought into focus when the owner of the Alamo walked onstage, clearly shitfaced, and demanded that everyone shoot a beer before watching this, his favorite film of the festival, “The Devil Dared Me To.” The staff began handing out free Lone Stars and on cue, we all stood and downed our beers. The directors, both New Zealanders, livened up the joint with some spirited banter (people from that part of the world just plain out and out like to have FUN!!), the lights went down, and away we went. This film, about a young man born into a lowbrow family of stunt/carny people and later becomes one himself, was like a cross between Animal House and Jackass. The move was full throttle, full bore fun. At the events they stage tons of shit blows up, everything catches fire, people everywhere get maimed and fucked up beyond compare. Violence. Crazy, sick violence. We’re talking prison gang rapes that are actually funny, every manner of death and destruction possible, and all the while you’re laughing your ass off. Completely over the top. What a way to end this year’s festival. Fuck yeah.
Over the next week or so, absorbing all that I’d seen and heard, something very odd, yet not, occurred. Slowly, bits of certain moments I’d witnessed the week prior bore direct correlation to events now transpiring in my

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