GoIndieNow Presents TOP INDIE FILMS OF 2020, PART 2: FILMS 10-6
January 6, 2021
GoIndieNow Presents is an occasional column featuring the third Plotaholics, Joe Compton. In these columns, Joe will discuss that state of indie film and offer suggestions for worthwhile media to consume in that market. This iteration of GoIndieNow Presents is a three-part exploration of 2020’s indie film landscape.
Hello, Plotaholics faithful. Joe Compton (the third Plotaholic) here.
Let’s be honest: 2020 sucked. Who knows what all of it means as far as 2021 goes, especially when it comes to Independent Film, which is something I cover over at Go Indie Now. But as for now, I am here to continue discussing the best in indie film from 2020.
Today, we kick off my Top 10 list with entries 10-6.
10. FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO – DOCUMENTARY (USA)
SYNOPSIS: From 1984 to 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot film, videotape and digital images with her father, Ira Sachs, a bohemian businessman from Park City. This film is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to eight siblings, some of whom she has known all of her life, others she only recently discovered. With a nod to the Cubist renderings of a face, her film offers sometimes contradictory views of one seemingly unknowable man who is always there, public, in the center of the frame, yet somehow ensconced in secrets.
WHAT THIS FILM DOES WELL: Lynne is a legend, and her style and abilities are at the top of the list in terms of Documentarians and their storytelling styles, but this one is so different. It is almost by nature that this has to be presented as it is, but it serves as a triumph and not a crutch or gimmick. There is no avoiding the fact that not every shot was composed and lit or mic’ ed properly. Yet, in true Lynne Sachs form, she weaves such an intricate and intimate narrative that twists and turns with the best of them. You almost expect there might have been some prior planned composition to those “home movie” shots.
It is also striking because the one being most affected in and throughout is her and her family. So, in a weird and interesting way, this film that starts looking into a family patriarch becomes a character-driven, dilemma story that interweaves the documenter with the subject matter and creates a mystery cloaked in a soap opera-type drama. The fun aspects are the ratio and framing of a lot of raw footage that gets shot over time on many different devices and how it enhances the experiences of the narrative–a skill set that editor Rebecca Shapass clearly possesses in spades.
Documentaries are often that idea that what you see is not what you will get in the end, and in a way because of the brave way in which Lynne chooses to put herself out there, comfortable or not, we really see a 4th wall crash that presents such a compelling and shocking result. In talking to her, I know this was a choice that was not easy to make. Yet this film has very few moments of bleakness and never are they overt–another display of the skill set that Lynne possesses as a proven Documentarian. Instead it chooses naturally to highlight and enhance the positive aspects of the reveals, which makes you wish your family or life was half as interesting as this one.