REEL Indie Film Festival

Posted 8 years ago by myetvmedia

Musicwood Documentary – 2 min trailer from Helpman Productions on Vimeo.

Clearing the vast Tombas National Forest of Alaska is the only way to make money for the people whose livelihood depend on it.  These people are employed by Sealaska, a Native corporation. On the other hand, the environmental impact is massive. Sealaska executives are adamant that they will continue clearcutting the forest, whatever anyone says. And then Greenpeace joined took up the cause, leading to a three-way battle between the guitar CEOs, Sealaskaand Greenpeace one of the most radical environmentalist groups in the world.

The breath-taking scenery captured and immortalised by Trump is stunning. Her ability to convey the scale of the conflict, the plight of the disaffected Natives, and how it all began with something so trivial in hindsight, is testament to Trump’s skill as a director. In ten years, it may not be possible to build acoustic guitars like this anymore. And that is a symptom of something far worse. Nominated for the 2012 Social Justice award at the 2013 Santa Barbara Film Festival, Musicwoodhas screened at festivals in New York, Chicago, Seattle and in Toronto at the Reel Indie Film Fest (RIFF).


Christophe Chanel



Bayou Maharajah

Closing Toronto’s Reel Indie Film Fest, Bayou Maharajah tells the story of James Booker, a gay, one-eyed, drug addicted, piano playin’ bluesman. He played with Ringo Starr, Jerry Garcia, the Doobie Brothers and more, taught Harry Connick Jr. how to play and may have inspired the writing of Hunter S. Thompson. Depending on who you ask, he lost his eye in a fight, the CIA took it, or Ringo Starr has a very nasty temper.


This documentary was funded by Kickstarter, as an attempt to drag a highly talented but little-known musician into the limelight. Over the course of three years, director Lily Keber travelled the world, tracking down everyone from friends and fans to his guide in East Germany to try to show us how he lived and played.

Booker was a genius, but a tormented one. We’re read a checklist of possible mental disorders he suffered with, his bouts of depression and we are told how his friends were forced to kick him out onto the street because of his drug use. The archival footage of Booker himself talking about his problems lends a gravity to them we wouldn’t really get otherwise, it’s one thing to hear a witness, quite another to hear it from the man himself.  This is a testament to the incredibly hard work Keber put in to track down these archives.

Enjoyable, insightful, and brings one of the more obscure bluesmen into the public eye. Highly recommended.

@ivoryemperor, @RIFF_toronto

Donal O’Connor



In Search of Blind Joe Death

There’s a moment in this documentary where John Fahey looks at the camera and states: “My father was a pedophile.” There is no warning, and no follow up. A pretty damning statement goes ignored. That sums this documentary up perfectly.

Directed by James Cullingham, In Search of Blind Joe Death concerns itself with John Fahey, an experimental musician who died in 2001 after a lifetime of expanding his musical range and experimenting in different genres and instruments. The documentary begins strong, with commentary from some remarkable sources, including Pete Townshend (The Who) and Hugh Laurie (House), and talking about his initial experimentation and his adventures in setting up his own label, but quickly becomes repetitive, failing to really explain Fahey or make you really give a damn about him. It becomes “hey, wasn’t that guy a good guitarist?” with rampant backpatting, skipping over the failed marriages and substance abuse that gets mentioned but dropped entirely too quickly. It touches on some very dark stuff, but doesn’t have the guts to dig into the subject matter.

Trailer: In Search of Blind Joe Death – The Saga of John Fahey from JohnFaheyFilm on Vimeo.

It’s not a documentary, but a (very) brief overview of someone whose work deserved better. If you’re already a fan of Fahey, there’s nothing here. If you’ve never heard of the guy before, there’s nothing here for you either. Avoid.

@johnfaheyfilm, @RIFF_toronto

Donal O’Connor



Window of Opportunity

When obscenely rich CEO Roger Sizemore (Oliver Muirhead) and his lackey Carl (Phil Proctor) invite up and coming Peter (Jack Maxwell) to their country getaway for a weekend, it’s impossible to say no. Beautiful countryside, chess, good liquor, the opportunity to brown nose and, of course, the occasional dead hooker and angry pimp makes for a vacation no one is going to forget.

As I watching this, I kept thinking to myself that this would make a fantastic stage play. When the credits rolled, I saw that it was adapted from a stage play of the same name, with the same director Samuel Warren Joseph. While I am sure the original play is great and I hope to one day watch it, unfortunately it doesn’t quite translate that well to screen. Add in a cast made mostly of unknowns, and you have an interesting failure, albeit one produced by John Densmore, the drummer for The Doors (also a keynote speaker at the festival), who was on hand at the screening for a brief but entertaining q and a with Joseph after the screening.

There is some great stuff in here, from Jack Maxwell’s turn as the voice of reason and Ty Granderson Jones as the pimp trying to cut a deal, along with really funny moments as the older, upperclass men try to deal with things way out of their experience and an unexpected twist that will surprise you, but honestly, I can’t recommend it. A great play, I have no doubt of that, but not a great movie. Played as a special presentation Wednesday October 16th at 9:30PM at the Royal for Reel Indie Film Fest.


Donal O’Connor

Also take a look at our reviews for:

Walking Proof 

Los Wild Ones 

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REEL Indie Film Festival

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