Reporting from the Denver Film Festival.
There’s something going on in the documentary world, something good. It probably has something to do with the proliferation of prosumer cameras: Home movies look and sound better than ever before.
Though the quantity of footage never quite relates to quality, first-person documentaries like North By Current and Anonymous Sister certainly benefit from a personal archive. They also benefit from expert editing that favors the poetic and stream-of-consciousness.
North By Current, produced, directed, shot, and edited by Angelo Madsen Minax, starts as an exploration of his infant nieces’ sudden death but then spins out into a multi-headed look at love, rejection, addiction, and death. As Minax shows, words carry severe consequences, be they in print and dispensed by public officials or brief quips snapped off in the heat of the moment.
Odd that we put so much stock into these small moments, but we do. Minax puts so much stock in one quip hurdled at him at a transitional point of his life that he circles it for the duration of North By Current. Minax warns us up front that he’s not ready to look at or address certain things. It builds suspense, but it also creates impatience.