19 February 2009

At the movies: Must Read After My Death.

Built from the ground up with the footage shot by and the voice recordings of a family coming apart at the seams in the mid-to-late 60s, Must Read After My Death is the sound of crisis even as it unfolds over images of an uneasy serenity. Using no narration or external set-up, we are immersed in the life of Allis, a mother and wife on the brink of life, and it is a hypnotic and haunting experience; material originally used as therepeutic devices and means of communication become time-delayed weapons.

Think of films like Capturing the Friedmans, Tarnation, and Dear Zachary: nonfiction cinema built around primary sources documented and recorded by the people involved in them. Morgan Dews' film not only helps change the game plan for contemporary nonfiction cinema, it's also changing the way we think of film distribution, working with a plan for access that makes several of the VOD programs used by many independent distributors seem lagging.

This film hits hard and shows no mercy; charting the arcs of a family's life without censoring them. Documentary enthusiasts and anyone intrigued by the mysteries of family should check it out without hesitation. And if it isn't playing near you or at a convenient time, you can check it out online at your leisure thanks to Gigantic Releasing's new universal VOD approach to distribution.

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