On the first full day of the Tribeca Film Festival, I saw two films.
The first was Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist and I loved it. It's amazing to see how much this one man did for the medium of comics, which is now a pretty major player in the entertainment industry. Not only did he invent the graphic novel (which I kind of already knew), but he pretty much came up with the model for the modern comic book in the first place. AND he innovated using comics as a more accessible way to teach people - first in the army, and then with kids. Pretty amazing.
The film was also really well put together, with lots of interviews and lots of dynamic, detailed views of some really incredible artwork.
The second film I saw was also a documentary. I didn't mean for it to work out that way, but it wasn't a bad thing. The film was called Heckler, made by Jamie Kennedy and director Michael Addis (pictured above). It seems that they set out to make a tour film, and Jamie was getting heckled a lot. Around the same time, Son of the Mask came out and it was getting panned - both by traditional critics and by pretty much anyone with a blog and an opinion.
So, the film turned into this thing where they were exploring the phenomenon of hecklers, and then critics. They interviewed a bunch of comedians and filmmakers, a few hecklers and (in some hilariously uncomfortable sequences) some of the critics who panned Kennedy's film. It definitely has the feeling of being a sort of therapeutic exercise, but it's also hilarious and pretty brave, I think.
The proliferation of online communities and publications has made the practice of criticism available to everyone, and the perceived anonymity of the internet makes people feel comfortable being vicious, especially if they can look clever while doing it. Sure, they have the right to say whatever they want, but online it's also way too easy to ignore how your words are going to affect people. The film presents the perspective of those people that are the targets, and I can definitively say that I would not want to go through what they go through.