The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Billy the Kid
, and Man on Wire
all wowed me in the past couple of years and were among my Top Picks from Toronto 2006, SXSW 2007, Tribeca 2007, and Tribeca 2008, respectively. At last year's SXSW Film Festival, Body of War, FrontRunners
, andThe Wrecking Crew
all impressed me so much that I had to split my Top Picks into three narratives and three docs.
I can't predict what will happen at this year's SXSW Film Festival, but there are certainly several which have piqued my interest. Died Young, Stayed Pretty
premiered in Montreal to great acclaim.
The festival's synopsis
reads: "Picking up where punk left off, Died Young, Stayed Pretty
reveals a new breed of counter-culturists; artists that set out to destroy the mainstream through their controversial and intensely visceral design work. Under the guise of advertising for rock shows, these unheralded masters of the silkscreen and Xerox machine carry on public discourses that range from hot button political issues to lewd inside jokes. Director Eileen Yaghoobian sneaks her camera into the lives of these self-proclaimed professional radicals to discover where the real punk power lies, if any remains. Presented in the Emerging Visions Category, this feature film is the first of its kind to take a candid look at the renaissance of North America?s underground indie-rock poster movement."
As someone who was part of the "punk scene" starting in the late 70s I can state that I was vaguely aware of the "rock poster scene" that existed then and still exists today. The film is fascinating in its illumination of what has been (and maybe should remain) hidden in the dark underbelly of the graphic art subculture. As a documentary it does its job admirably. But I found it quite humorous, particularly in the artists' sense of gravitas as well as the simplicity with which the art has been created. I almost felt as though anyone could do it, while at the same time time feeling that nobody could do it. And much like the subjects portrayed in the film, I can imagine seeing more and more each time it's viewed.
While I attend film festivals primarily for narrative features, works of fiction, I'm certainly not averse to seeking out quality documentaries. In fact, docs have often shown up on my lists of Top Picks from the various festivals I've attended.