Documentary Feature Competition: Better This World
Justice and injustice, loyalty and disloyalty, power and the abuse of power, manipulation, right and wrong, ethics and integrity…these are the topics that viewers are likely to ponder long after “Better This World” ends. This film, which chronicles the events leading up to and following the arrests of David McKay and Brad Crowder on charges of domestic terrorism for an offense that was never actually committed, is definitely on the must-see list of films at this year’s Sarasota Film Festival. The story of two young men with good intentions gone bad is told through audio and video clips, court transcripts, and interviews from all sides of the fence including the FBI. McKay and Crowder were arrested for possession of molotov cocktails, with the said intent to plot the destruction of property and injury of police at the 2008 Republican National Convention. There are many surprises along the way of the tangled path through which this film weaves. The real-life twist is this film is conveyed in such a way that it will likely surprise the viewer as much as it did McKay and Crowder.
Directors Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega give the facts while leaving the viewer to form their own opinions. Whatever you do, don’t walk out of this film early. The true irony of these events can not be appreciated without watching the very last clip. The film leaves the viewer with unanswered questions, but so do the actual events. A good documentary stays with you. This is a film you aren’t likely to forget.
"Better This World" will be shown at the Sarasota Film Festival on Thursday, April 14th@4:15pm and Saturday, April 16th at 2:00pm
Documentary Feature Competition: Last Days Here
“Last Days Here” tells the story of Bobby Liebling, the lead singer of Pentagon, a doom metal band in the 1970s that never quite made it big. Decades later, a fan falls in love with Bobby’s music and sets out on an obsessive mission to bring the band back to life. Meanwhile, Liebling has spent decades living in his parent’s “sub-basement” ingesting copious amounts of drugs. According to Liebling, his usage spans 44 years with 39 years of heroin use and 22 years of crack cocaine, with crack seeming to be his drug of choice throughout most of the film. It’s painful to watch Liebling’s wasted states and the deep wounds he created by pulling off his skin. His endlessly supportive parents are consummate enablers, giving Liebling over a million dollars through the years – money inevitably spent on his drug habit. It would seem that his parents have problems of their own, making absolutely no effort to clean up their home before the camera crew arrives. Although it’s inferred that Liebling never felt he could compete with his father’s successful career – a career in which he was likened to Kissinger, the film never quite builds an understanding of how Liebling became such a train wreck.
Followers of Pentagram will likely enjoy this film. For the uninitiated, it’s a film that is difficult to watch. The film fails to convey either the man or the music that endears Pelletier and others to Liebling in spite of repeated letdowns. While Liebling finally gets his act together for the sought after “Last Rites” performance, there is no evidence of true rehabilitation. He seems only to have substituted one drug with another – the drug of adulation. With Liebling’s long history of self-sabotage, the film leaves me unconvinced of his ability to sustain his transformation. One can only hope.
"Last Days Here" will be shown at the Sarasota Film Festival on Thursday, April 14th @ 9:00pm and Saturday, April 16th @ 5:30pm.