Hot Docs 2015: ‘Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi’ and ‘Raiders!’

Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi (DIR. Neil Broffman)


By: Shannon Page

If you own a computer, have a Facebook account, frequent Twitter, or read the news – basically, if you interact with information and technology at all – you should watch Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi.  The emotional and thoughtful film, directed by Neil Broffman, tells the story of a Brown University student who went missing one month prior to the Boston Marathon bombings and was subsequently associated with one of the suspects in the bombings.

The film’s ability to combine moving interviews with friends and family, moody urban images, footage from security cameras, and posts that were made on social media is arguably its greatest strength.  Broffman has created a rare thing, a film that is as visually compelling as it is emotionally affective.  Through combining footage and media from a variety of sources, Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi is able to tell both the tragic story of a missing young man and his family as well as make a comment on the way that social media has come to inform traditional news media.

I was surprised by how innovative and intelligent this film was in its story telling technique.  What could have been a straightforward story of a family’s pain became a complex look at both the negative and the positive effects of social media.


Raiders! (DIR. Jeremy Coon, Tim Skousen)

Raiders Still

By: Addison Wylie

Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala are film enthusiasts and adore Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark.  As youngsters, they dedicated themselves to making a shot-for shot remake of the classic blockbuster.  Summers were used to shoot footage and birthdays were strategies to ask for props and costuming.

They finally completed their adaptation…minus a climactic scene.  Due to various complications, the filmmaking friends had a falling out.  However, no one could’ve guessed what their labour of love would mean to other avid movie goers, and how their project would bring them together.

Raiders! documents all of this, and more.  On paper, this documentary sounds like a thrilling ride through adolescence with an appreciative love for cinema.  Unfortunately, this lacklustre documentary tired me out.

Despite momentarily touching scenes between family and the ragtag Raiders of the Lost Ark film crew, Raiders! is empty.  Nostalgia and eagerness can only carry a film so far, yet Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen (who directed and produced this doc about the film) are convinced otherwise.

The trips down memory lane hit the wrong notes.  Instead of inviting the audience in, Coon and Skousen brag about the filmmakers’ achievements, and Strompolos and Zala are always willing to show off.  It’s a shame since the inspired subjects seem like nice film buffs you’d want to talk shop with.  At least they’re more tolerable than the enabling film fanatics that are interviewed about the adaptation – a lot of geeking out ensues.

Movie goers gain some intimate knowledge as to why this slapdash production was a crucial component to the filmmakers’ lives, but Raiders! erratically jumps from the past to the present and vice versa.  It’s also disappointing to watch prime interviews run over each other.  The shabby editing abruptly cuts off interesting insight.

Perhaps those looking for a simple nostalgia trip will perceive Raiders! as a satisfying gem.  Even then, I find it very hard to recommend this self-serving ego trip.


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Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Shannon Page: @ShannonEvePage

Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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