Hit and Miss Documentaries

Not to be cliche, but yesterday was whirlwind. It felt like four days in one. In a way, it was because we woke up at 6 a.m. and didn’t go to bed until 2 a.m. I went to two showings with friends. The first was Documentary Shorts II, which consisted of three short documentaries. The first was Living for 32 about a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre and it was amazing! We are getting the director to come to our house to be interviewed tomorrow so more news and pictures from that. The second was Barber of Birmingham about a foot soldier looking back on his past during the campaign and election of President Obama. I liked it a lot more than others but I think it had more of an impact on my since I come from D.C. and lived through the heart of the election and inauguration.

My fellow classmates already discussed and reflected on those two shorts in previous posts so I wanted to comment on the third short, Animals Distract Me. It was directed by and also starred Isabella Rossellini. It was a short about her love for animals and how they take over her mind. I did not like this film. At first, it was interesting and showed home videos from her childhood. Then it just got weird. One part that stands out in my mind is when she began to ponder about Demodex, the animals that live in eyelashes. It cut to a shot of Rossellini in a mascot-esque costume of a Demodex sitting on an eyelash. It reminded me of something that you would see on Yo Gabba Gabba, maybe even Sesame Street.

This film just went on way too long and didn’t even focus on animals the entire time. To make matters worse, there was no representative at the screening for Q&A, while the other films had the directors and subjects. I was not even able to pick Rossellini’s mind about this film. What baffles me is how this film was chosen out of the thousand doc-shorts submitted and made it to the final 81 screened. I felt she made the film because she felt entitled from her mother, actress Ingrid Bergman, and father, Italian director Roberto Rossellini. It seemed as she just made a film just to be able to send it to Sundance, because she could. Yes, the production quality was good, but there was nothing else there for me.

Animals Distract Me will not ruin documentaries for me; in fact, it makes me appreciate them even more. I kept recommending the screening to other classmates, but I don’t want them to sit through the final short. I’m torn, but I think I would have to conclude that inspiration that comes from Living for 32 and Barber of Birmingham are worth the extra 30 minutes of agony.

– Hannah

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About The Spirit of Sundance

A group of Elon University students experiencing the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
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