Moviemaking is a game of remakes and endlessly repeated story lines, but documentary is an entirely different beast. Documentary film proves there are more stories in the world, more eccentrics and visionaries, than there is film to capture them.
The opening film in the debut DocuFest Atlanta April 26-30 at PushPush Theater testifies to documentary's valorization of the singularity of individual experience.
Bob Smith, U.S.A. (Wed., April 26, 9:30 p.m.) looks at seven diverse American men with one common bond: all are named Bob Smith. From a Christian clown who preaches Scripture while making balloon animals to a Queens graphic artist who likes to dress up as Satan and preach his personal anti-Jesus message, the film is an engrossing, oddly charming reminder that America remains a free-range zone of wild and woolly misfits, malcontents and hell-raisers.
It is, likewise, hard not to come away from The Sandman's Garden (Fri., April 28, 6 p.m.) with a deep respect and amazement at the vision and determination of self-taught, Alabama-based artist Lonnie Holley, who over the course of Arthur Crenshaw's documentary creates an epic installation at the Birmingham Museum of Art composed of materials plucked from the local junkyard.
Activist films are a special focus at DocuFest, with films addressing grassroots efforts like the inspiring battle waged by two determined Brits to fight the mightiest of multinationals, the burger behemoth McDonald's in McLibel (Thurs., April 27, 9:45 p.m.).
A different kind of war is fought in Walking the Line (Fri., April 28, 7:30 p.m.), over the contested U.S./Mexican border where armed American citizen militias are determined to keep illegals out at any cost, while religious groups and Good Samaritans place supplies of water in the desert to make sure immigrants don't die during the perilous border crossing.
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