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Dragon*Con doc captures creativity of 'Nerdi Gras' 

Four Days at Dragon*Con focuses on the personalities and attractions of the 2009 gathering

ITCH PURR-FECT: An interview with Catwoman during the making of Four Days at Dragon*Con

Rod Reilly

ITCH PURR-FECT: An interview with Catwoman during the making of Four Days at Dragon*Con

San Diego Comic-Con reliably draws the media's attention as Hollywood's favorite convention for the fantastical genres. The takeaway for Atlanta's 23-year-old Dragon*Con nearly always plays up the creativity and commitment of its attendees. Unimpressed by a stitch-perfect fan costume of bounty hunter Boba Fett from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back? Dragon*Con regulars can unveil a Victorian steampunk Boba Fett, or a Boba Fett suit that appears to be made of Legos.

PBA 30's documentary Four Days at Dragon*Con (airing Sept. 2 and 7 at 11 p.m.; Sept. 4 at midnight) captures the crazy-quilt splendors of the annual event, which sees Klingons, orcs, superheroes, zombies and other entities invade downtown Atlanta every Labor Day. Filmmakers Jack Walsh and Gordon Ray emphasize the personalities and attractions of the 2009 gathering, which featured an attempt by hundreds to break the record for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance, as well as possibly Dragon*Con's biggest celebrity "get" in its history: William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.

Four Days at Dragon*Con explores the cheerful obsessions of some of its visitors, such as the young woman who spends scores of hours to make a perfect costume, complete with magnets, of superheroine the Wasp from The Avengers comic books. Chairman Pat Henry recalls that the Dragon*Con parade originated with his realization that pageantry was second nature to the attendees. He acknowledges, however, that "while we are a parading people, we're not a physically fit people. We don't want to parade for long distances. We want to keep it under a mile."

Walsh and Ray spend less time on Dragon*Con's history and don't mention the legal troubles of its founder, Ed Kramer, which would cast a pall over the upbeat film. Instead, the filmmakers celebrate Dragon*Con as a chance for artistic-minded nonconformists to gather, show off and take inspiration from one another, whether they're singing songs about the living dead, designing aggressive robots, or competing in the Miss Klingon Empire Beauty Pageant.

Dragon*Con's diversity seems in keeping with the image of its host city. Atlanta is a metropolis of commuters, transplants and transportation hubs, so it makes sense that Dragon*Con crosses genres and concedes to fan wishes to incorporate things like wrestling bouts and alternative history discussions. In Four Days at Dragon*Con, one visitor explains his appreciation for Star Wars and Star Trek by saying, "I'm bi-Treksual." The documentary can convince you that it's a small multiverse after all.

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