The ReelHeART International Film & Screenplay Festival is currently underway until Saturday, July 8 featuring events all over the city of Toronto. I’ve seen two of this year’s selected documentaries and while these films belong in separate categories, both have a comparable criticism.
An LGBTQ themed night is headlined by Small Town Rage: Fighting Back in the Deep South, a documentary directed by Raydra Hall and David Hylan, and narrated by Lance Bass (N’Sync). This emotional film centres around the birth of ACT UP Shreveport, a movement created to bring comprehensive understanding to AIDS during a paranoid era of homosexual panic. Members of ACT UP are interviewed about the conception of the group, its founder Larry Kramer, and the various problems and debates they encountered (including staggering heartbreak with politician Jim McCrery).
The festival closes with the Toronto premiere of Long Road Home, a homegrown bio-doc about musician Alfie Zappacosta. Using a mix of concert footage and interviews, Long Road Home chronicles the early days of Zappacosta’s career and his wavering relationship with the music industry – an artistic struggle which he admits to having as much distain for as he has genuine passion.
Both documentaries are basic. Long Road Home is the most traditional of the duo, but it’s easy to forgive considering the doc was produced by a Digital Media and IT student program at Alberta’s polytechnic NAIT. It strictly stays within the lines of a linear and conventional narrative, while occasionally cutting away to locked-off shots of Zappacosta performing – it’s a dream for teachers who have asked for a “professional” project. Meanwhile, Small Town Rage sticks to a typical “talking heads” format, but subjects Gary Cathey, Brian Sullivan, and Robbert Darrow have lots of interesting memories and opinions to share.
Don’t get me wrong: Long Road Home and Small Town Rage are efficient, solid films. The former made me want to dig up Alfie Zappacosta’s earworm tunes from the 80s, and Small Town Rage reminded me of how important educated voices are during times of arrogance. However, the next step for these filmmakers is to equip a sense of style to their films that separate their work from the news.
Catch Small Town Rage: Fighting Back in the Deep South at Toronto’s ReelHeART International Film & Screenplay Festival on:
Thursday, July 6 at 6:45 p.m. @ Carlton Cinema *FILMMAKERS IN ATTENDANCE*
Friday, July 7 at 7:00 p.m. @ Carlton Cinema *FILMMAKERS IN ATTENDANCE*
Catch Long Road Home at Toronto’s ReelHeART International Film & Screenplay Festival on:
Saturday, July 8 at 6:45 p.m. @ Carlton Cinema *POST SCREENING Q&A with ALFIE ZAPPACOSTA*
Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie