Tag Archives: SXSW 2007

Interview: Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer on Darkon

Skip Lipman, star of Darkon: The Movie
Skip Lipman, star of Darkon

When Ian McKellen pretends to be a wizard, he gets $8 million and an Oscar nomination. When a bunch of ordinary working people get together to pretend to be barbarians, warriors, and trolls on the weekend for fun, they get called geeks. Call them instead LARPers – live action role-players – and the subject of Darkon, an overwhelming favorite on the 2006 festival circuit.

In their debut documentary feature, co-directors Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer enter Darkon, a high-fantasy world in which orcs rampage across nations, mages cast arcane conjurings, and dark elves plot in caves. In reality, Darkon is a set of gaming rules, a map of fictional countries, and a series of weekendlong live-action events on borrowed farmland. Players come in homemade costumes, and vie for power and hexes on the map through negotiations, treachery, and intrigue. When that fails, they battle with padded maces and foam swords.

Continue reading Interview: Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer on Darkon

Review: Grimm Love aka Rohtenburg (2006)

GrimmLoveDirected by Martin Weisz

Starring: Keri Russell, Thomas Huber, Thomas Kretschmann

When Armin Meiwes, a German computer technician, was found guilty of cannibalism, the world was shocked. Yet what was most shocking was not that he ate someone but that someone willingly volunteered to be eaten. Shooting this semifictionalized account of the crime in the washed-out blues of a German winter, debut director Weisz uses American grad student Katie Armstrong to coolly unravel this conundrum. Played by Russell, who has come a long way since Felicity, she reconstructs and tries to comprehend the incomprehensible. In flashbacks, veteran German actor Kretschmann is Meiwes’ analog Oliver; Huber is willing victim Simon. Both bring a dark, disturbing understanding to their characters.
Continue reading Review: Grimm Love aka Rohtenburg (2006)

Review: Election Day (2007)

electionDirected by Katy Chevigny

After the 2000 elections, a swathe of political documentaries painted a grim portrait of the democratic process. For anyone embittered about the whole poll thing, Election Day takes a bittersweet snapshot of voting, American style. From the polls’ open to the final counts on Nov. 2, 2004, it shows the highs and lows of elections.
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Review: Great World of Sound (2007)

Directed by Craig Zobel

Starring: Pat Healy, Kene Holliday

Martin is a nonentity, a failed radio engineer who dreamed of being a deejay. As played by Healy, he hangs onto a shadow of his dream of being “something” in music. With Holliday’s gregarious Clarence, he’s dispatched by a record firm as a talent scout. At least, that’s what they think they are. Really, they’ve been duped into scamming wannabe musicians. They are “song sharks,” getting hopeful nobodies to hand over cash for a record that will never be released.
Continue reading Review: Great World of Sound (2007)

Review: Zoo (2007)

zooDirected by Robinson Devor

Bestiality. An act many people can scarcely comprehend how, never mind why, it’s done. But when a man died in 2003 after having sex with a horse, the quiet rural town of Enumclaw, Wash., was confronted with the trans-species taboo. In an elegiac and perturbing exploration of the events, documentary-maker Devor mixes re-enactment and audio interviews with two communities: the zoophiles, who cannot understand why they are shunned, and the families and friends that struggled to understand them.

Continue reading Review: Zoo (2007)

Interview: Michael Tucker on The Prisoner, Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair (2007)

theprisonerWhile making the Iraq-based documentary Gunner Palace in 2003, cameraman Michael Tucker was embedded with U.S. soldiers raiding what they thought was a bomb factory. What they found was four brothers in their family home – and no evidence. One brother spoke straight to Tucker’s camera. He didn’t seem angry at the soldiers in his garden but bitterly disappointed. Now Tucker tells the rest of his story.

He was Yunis Khatayer Abbas, an Iraqi journalist working for CNN and other foreign stations. He had been tortured as a dissident under Saddam Hussein and initially welcomed the Americans as liberators. He had no links to the insurgents. Yet, instead of being released, Yunis disappeared into the machinery of the occupation. For nine months, he and two of his brothers were held without charge at Camp Ganci, the low-risk section of Abu Ghraib. With the same clarity that he held the camera’s attention in Gunner Palace, Yunis explains the increasingly bizarre and terrible treatment he and his fellow inmates suffered. Yet he also praises the humanity of American guards who tried to provide some comfort to the prisoners.

(A version of this story previously appeared at AustinChronicle.com)
Continue reading Interview: Michael Tucker on The Prisoner, Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair (2007)