Monday, March 13, 2006
SXSW Film: Summercamp!
Documentary director Bradley Beesley is what you would call a friend of the festival. His films Okie Noodling and the Flaming Lips doc Fearless Freaks both showed at SXSW in years past. He returns this year with Summercamp!, co-directed by Sarah Price (American Movie).
It's a fairly simple idea, follow the kids at a nature-focused summer camp as they experience the fun and not-so-fun of being away from home. I won't give anything away, but the stories they focus on are uniformly good. One in particular knocked the audience for a loop. You can't write plot points like that, one of the reasons I prefer docs to narrative films at festivals. High praise to editor JoLyn Garnes who does a masterful job of putting together well-constructed chapters that are complete in themselves while also forwarding the main stories. From the Q&A after the screening, I got the impression that Beesley and Price shot separately. If so, they did a great job of communicating to stay on the same page. It never felt like two movies.
Though Summercamp! is not a sublime work of art or one-of-a-kind documetary, it is a enjoyable film that deserves to be seen by a wider audience. Catch it at SXSW if you can, at the first screening two of the camp counselors lead the audience in a camp song and answered questions about the experience from their perspective.