documentary

Asher Penn: Producer of Maggie Lee’s Documentary Mommy

I love watching documentaries but sometimes it can be hard to find ones that are exciting, interesting, and that tell really personal stories. I believe there’s lots of them out there, I just don’t always know where to find them.

If you’re a docu-film-fan like myself, please watch Maggie Lee’s MOMMY (click here for a link to rent or purchase the film on Vimeo–it’s worth it! I spent $15 to see it tonight at The Cinematheque–my first time seeing a film there–and it was worth every penny).

The movie is 55 minutes long. Mommy involves Maggie Lee telling the story of her mother’s life as well as her own, and letting us see what Maggie Lee experiences in the aftermath of her mother’s death. The film is funny and honest. It is also sad, touching, and heartbreaking. It made me feel a lot of things and it made me reflect on my own relationship with my mom, because I can’t imagine what I’d do if my mother died suddenly.

This film is unique from many other documentaries that I’ve seen in that it has beautiful, vibrant visuals: words, drawings, colours, flashing lights and other artistic creations that make Mommy that much more engaging and gorgeous to watch (Maggie Lee is a successful artist so these touches make sense). As well, I want the soundtrack to the film (at the Q and A after it we were told it’s on Spotify). The music was energizing, painful, and fun. The movie is so much more than just a few things, and the many things it is are superb. I have a short attention span, but this film held my focus throughout. I love Maggie Lee and how vulnerable she was in letting the viewer see what she went through after losing her mother.

Mommy was so easy to watch and the film sped by too quickly–I wished there was more!

After the viewing, I talked to Asher Penn who produced and took part in the creation of the film with Maggie Lee. Asher is currently working on a documentary about Gabor Mate. Watching film to overcome feeling like a freak or an outsider is something Asher suggests doing: I agree!

WHISTLER FILM FEST DOCS: SNOWMAN and POINT AND SHOOT

Last weekend I went to Whistler for the WHISTLER FILM FESTIVAL. I only managed to see 2 films, but they were very thought-provoking and well-worth the trip to Whistler!

The 2 documentaries I viewed were SNOWMAN and POINT AND SHOOT.

First, I have included the SNOWMAN trailer:

Here is the trailer for POINT AND SHOOT:

SNOWMAN is directed by Whistler ski legend MIKE DOUGLAS. It chronicles the life story of his best friend KEVIN FOGOLIN (the men grew-up together in Campbell River, BC). Kevin and Mike share an obsession with the snow and skiing. Once high school is finished, Kevin moves to Whistler. Whistler is not what Kevin expects it to be. After his short-stint living in Whistler, he abandons his dreams and settles-down in Campbell River. Eventually, Kevin gets married and has 3 sons.

Snowman

(Kevin Fogolin-l and Mike Douglas-r: source)

Mike moves to Whistler after Kevin has already left. In Whistler, Douglas ends up creating a highly successful and distinguished career as a groundbreaking free-skier.

Kevin eventually finds a job that suits his passion for snow. He drops bombs from a helicopter in remote BC locations to create avalanches to prevent more extreme avalanche damage from happening. One day Kevin is involved in a helicopter crash. This traumatizing event changes how he sees his own life and the crash greatly impacts how he lives his life to this day.

The documentary raises a lot of relatable, and challenging-to-answer, questions such as “What degree of risk-taking is healthy and at what point does risk-taking become careless?”, “Is it ever possible to forget about one’s dreams?”, and “Should you sacrifice your own dreams to ensure financial security and stability for your family?”.

WhistlerFilmFest-SNOWMAN

(SNOWMAN poster: source)

The film is shot beautifully. The mountain landscapes are breathtaking, and, of course, there is lots of DRAMA. The film won THE BEST MOUNTAIN CULTURE AWARD at the 2014 WHISTLER FILM FESTIVAL. There is no official release date yet for SNOWMAN, but the film is being shown at additional film festivals and will hopefully be available on iTunes in 2015. When it is released, please take the time to watch it!

Matthew VanDyke on the cover of Baltimore City Paper(POINT AND SHOOT’S central figure MATT VANDYKE: source)

POINT AND SHOOT was a documentary that my boyfriend, IAN SOMERS (who is the composer for SNOWMAN and like Kevin and Mike, he also originates from Campbell River, BC), suggested we go see.

Therefore, I did not personally watch the trailer prior to going to the film. Ian told me that it was about a spoiled, young American male who naively sets out to learn more about countries in the Middle East. On his journey, he inadvertently gets more involved with a war than he expects to be. This was all that I knew prior to watching the movie.

I ended up absolutely loving the film. I thought the story sounded interesting, but predictable. I found it to be totally the OPPOSITE: I have never seen a documentary like POINT AND SHOOT.

2-time ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED director MARSHALL CURRY presents us with MATT VANDYKE, who is a 26 year-old caucasian, American male. VanDyke grows up as an only child and is financially supported by his family. He is admittedly disconnected from the life-challenges that people with less privilege regularly face. I liked him right away, even though his naivety might make him seem easy to hate. Matt’s vulnerability and honesty make him a complex character. He is open about his struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder while filming himself on his journey through North Africa and the Middle East on a motorcycle.

The film won the BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD at the TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL. I think it will continue to gain popularity once more people get to see it. The documentary is being released on iTunes on February 17th, 2015.

Point And Shoot Tribeca

(MATT VAN DYKE in POINT AND SHOOT: source)

Matt starts to gain confidence while on his multi-year motorcycle journey. He eventually befriends a small group of men in Libya who he feels huge sense of camaraderie with. Once Matt returns home, he sees on the news that the people of Libya are revolting against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. In a surprising move, Matt decides to return to Libya and to help his friends fight. Once there, he ends up being put in solitary confinement for 6 months, but that is only a small part of the real-life drama that unfolds.

I was amazed by the footage that VanDyke was able to capture. I watched the film with zero knowledge about Libya and how Muammar Gaddafi was brought down. Now, I feel like I have learned a little bit about a historical event as a result of viewing this film. When it is available, please take the time to watch this movie to learn about the incredible spirits of the Libyan people and Matt!