Hot Docs 2013: Fuck For Forest Review (Paolo Kagaoan)

Fuck For Forest

Directed by Michal Marczak

Fuck_For_Forest_1-640x356

Other than being in Hot Docs, Michal Marczak’s Fuck For Forest has another Canadian connection. A Canadian woman working in Dusseldorf who agrees to be recorded while performing sexual acts with one of FFF’s members (Recording sex is one of the things that FFF does). She cites her reason as “We’re fucked anyway,” which is a tolerable response to the world’s environmental state.

Programmer Eli Horwatt introduced the documentary as, among many things, a satire. That description helped soften the blow that the doc and its subjects give its audience. These are the kind of overgrown prodigal European children who dumpster dive their way into a new wardrobe. It’s hard not to facepalm yourself watching these hipsters do things like sing off-key about ‘Indians.’ I’d project and say that there’s something enviable about being so left-field but the obtuse aspects of their ethics make most people shake their heads.

On more serious notes, it’s equally difficult to watch a subculture depicted as ridiculously as this one. I feel uneasy while the group touch or cat call strangers, or kidnap a woman named Kajaal and let her be disowned by her family. The ethics of a doc becomes slippery when it’s depicting amorality. It’s also hard to watch while having the sense that the documentarians are coldly not helping their subjects because they’re loyal to the stereotypical rule that they shouldn’t break the fourth wall.

But I’ll try to keep an open mind. Besides, I don’t get that sense of distant mockery here. The subculture/NGO believes that sex keeps us one with nature. Mostly coming from middle class families, they choose a life of frugality, earning money not just through their porn but through busking as well. This revenue surprisingly has given them six digit earnings that go to an account that they only touch when they’re doing their restoration work in the third world.

Something that happens early in the movie made me turn my head when, after the deep voice of the narrator talked about a subject’s mommy issues #908 or another’s mind-blowing decision #623, he actually talked about their need for love. This is why half of humanity joins a group – joining to feel that sense of belonging.

That head turn became a click when the narrator actually explains some of the subjects’ beliefs about nature. And it’s not just the documentarians interjecting on behalf of their subjects, because when these guys talk about how stupid it is to pick flowers, or how the plants feel, there’s sincerity in their tone. When both the filmmaker and its subject take away irony out of the equation, as they do here, it often succeeds in pulling the audience in. These subjects don’t have a sensible manifesto but the movie admits that some of their beliefs ring true.

So we’re happy when both filmmaker and subject collaborate to depict the most tender sexual scenes I’ve ever seen. Rejoice when they’re embarking on a trip to keep untouched forested lands in Colombia. Empathize when the Natives distrust them and when the latter realize that they are way in over their heads. As a decent movie does, it lets its subjects show their flaws but it doesn’t kick them when they’re down.

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Alex Winter uploads his thoughts on ‘Downloaded’ (Interview)

Downloaded_4.470x264 AlexAlex Winter uploads his thoughts on ‘Downloaded

With his new documentary “Downloaded” having it’s Hot Docs debut tonight, Alex Winter has finally graduated from being Bill from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” into a seriously talented documentarian with a sharp eye for story and humor. The film is a rousing crowd pleaser and one of the most sought after tickets from this year’s fest. I got to sit down with Mr. Winter for a brief Q&A about the film.

Movie Junkie TO (MJ) -Thanks for taking some timeout to speak with me today Alex. I got to see the film the other day and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I was working in a music store when the Napster thing exploded so I had a very personal relationship to what I was seeing. What was your introduction to the story and how did you get involved in telling this story?

Alex Winter (AW) – Thanks, I guess we all have a way to relate with the Napster story. I was really interested in the early day s of the net, back in the early 90’s I was fascinated by the idea of the internet being this potential repository for global community.  I got online in the early 90s, checking out the internet BBS (Bulletin Board systems for the younger crowd) groups and newsgroups, and was really fascinated in where that was going potentially. Of course it was all very cumbersome to use the internet in those ways back in the early days but we did it anyway because it allowed us to communicate with people all over the world.  Then sure enough Napster appeared in 1999 and blew everyone away because  during the clunky and slow dial up era here was this really robust, speedy and very versatile global community that had showed up. Frankly that was my entry into it, well that and being a big Napster user myself.

(MJ) – I think everyone was at one point in time especially considering how revolutionary it was. So this is the first feature length documentary you’ve directed, what was the big difference between directing doc and fiction for you?

(AW) – I originally wrote the movie as a narrative, I was originally going to do it as a dramatic feature, then realised that after toying with it for a while it worked better as a documentary. I wasn’t overly concerned with changing it, I know docs very well as I have done a lot of documentary oriented advertising in the commercial work I’ve done.  And I think Napster lends itself very much to that style of storytelling cause there are many fascinating details and so many cool ways to come at the story that were fact based. It also has a very clear cut beginning middle and end; we know what happened to Napster (laughs). So I didn’t feel I was going to get lost at sea with the story.

(MJ) – The access you had to the Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning is pretty all encompassing, history in many cases has been pretty brutal to the pair, even outright vilifying them at times, but you manage to portray them more humanely than most. How were you able to achieve such access with the pair?

(AW) –Well I have known them for ten years, I had originally met them a decade ago to tell their story, so certainly the benefit of time helped.  They knew me well enough to know I was interested in telling a story that was a well-rounded examination of events, something that wouldn’t be one sided for or against them, and I was going to try and look at all sides and get as clear a picture as possible. That was really my agenda, they knew that going in, and that I knew the story really well. I guess there is certain level of trust there, though it probably wasn’t until the SXSW premiere that they realized exactly what I was doing. It was a big relief to show them the movie there and get that question out of the way.

downloaded_large(MJ) – Considering the film is very much about music and the evolution of it, can you talk about the music for the film and did you have music that gave you any trouble getting clearance rights for?

(AW) – Well all the music is cleared; the movie is done and coming out soon. Most of the music is score, an original score by DJ spooky, that makes 99% of the music in the movie ours anyways, so it’s a lot easier to clear your own music.

(MJ) – (laughs) Yes I imagine that would make the whole process a bit easier. So now that the film is finished what are the plans for the film going forward?

(AW) –  We’re going to do a small theatrical run, though most of our energy is focused on the digital release. In the summer we’re going to start a rollout over several months with theatrical, I Tunes and other digital streaming. We have some really interesting plans for the digital side of things because that’s really where this film lives. I can’t go into too much detail about that because they aren’t announced yet but it’s really cool there a lot of interesting ways to release movies now using new technology.

(MJ) – Absolutely, and I’m sure with all their history and their new internet endeavours that Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning might be able to provide some fun marketing ideas of their own.

(AW) – (laughs) I’ m Sure they would. They have stayed comfortably out of this whole process.  It’s been fun for them to watch from a distance and not have to suffer through any more Napster related grief ever again.

(MJ) – So what’s up next for you? What do you have in the works on either the directing or even the acting side?

(AW) – Well I stopped acting professionally 20 years ago and put all my energy in to writing and directing, that’s where my focus goes. I act very rarely but I did jump into a movie that a really great Spanish director was doing with Elijah Wood and John Cusack recently (research shows that film is “Grand Piano”) that’s coming out later this year. But normally most of my work these days is in the writing/directing space.  I’m currently writing 2 different televisions shows for cable and I’m prepping my next film. I’m going make another documentary, not technology or music related though; it’s definitely related to a very topical and somewhat provocative American story. So I am focusing on getting that going right now

(MJ) – I’m assuming that’s all we’re going to get out of you about that right now?

(AW) – (Laughs) For now, yeah.

(MJ) – Thanks again for your time today Alex.

(AW) – No, thank you.  I’m really glad you enjoyed the movie and happy you got a chance to check it out.

Screening times for Downloaded

Sat, Apr 27 9:00 PM
Isabel Bader Theatre
Rush Tickets
Sun, Apr 28 3:30 PM
Scotiabank 3
Buy Tickets
Fri, May 3 9:30 PM
Fox Theatre
Buy Tickets

 

Hot Docs 2013: Downloaded Review (Kirk Haviland)

Downloaded_2.470x264Downloaded

Director: Alex Winter

In 1998, teenage hacker Shawn Fanning cracked the code that enabled peer-to-peer file sharing online. In 1999, he partnered with his friend and fellow teen Sean Parker (later of Facebook fame) to launch a little service known as Napster. The music-sharing website transformed not only the music industry, but technology as a whole. It sparked a revolution and became the touchstone of a new, digital generation. Filmmaker Alex Winter is granted near unlimited access to Fanning and his collaborators, as well as to a roster of famous musicians including Henry Rollins, Snoop Lion, Beastie Boy Mike D and Public Enemy Chuck D, who are only too happy to give their opinions and insights on free downloading and copyright infringement.

It’s hard to imagine how much the music industry was affected and changed with the Napster technology, especially for the children of this digital age. The music store in the local mall used to be the busiest place to shop as it was the only way to get music. Director Winter takes us back to the ground-breaking first days of Napster through to the eventual demise and the impact the site has had on the industry as a whole. For once in music history, Napster tipped the scale in the favor of the consumer and has affected massive change. Fanning and Parker serve to be engaging subjects, and meeting the real Fanning will help you appreciate Justin Timberlake’s turn in the “Social Network” even more.

 Downloaded_3.470x264With a sharp and brilliant sense of humor, Downloaded dissects the story and the people behind it. With extremely fascinating material and one of the funniest final products of the festival, Downloaded is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Screens

Sat, Apr 27 9:00 PM
Isabel Bader Theatre
Rush Tickets
Sun, Apr 28 3:30 PM
Scotiabank 3
Buy Tickets
Fri, May 3 9:30 PM
Fox Theatre
Buy Tickets

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