This is the second consecutive week that the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club has had a documentary as part of its season, and that is certainty not meant as a criticism. Last week you will remember RBCFT screened Frank Poulsen magnificent expose of conflict materials used in mobile phones, Blood in the Mobile (2011) and this week’s documentary was almost as good but in a different way. Point and Shoot (2014) tells the story of Matthew Vandyke a 26-year-old American citizen who has suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder all his life. In 2006 Matthew set off from his comfortable and protected home life in Baltimore on what he called “a crash course in manhood” but not your normal morale boosting adventure activity course.
Inspired by the films of Alby Mangels, an Australian adventurer and documentary filmmaker, he went out and purchased a motorcycle and a video camera and began a multi-year, 35,000-mile motorcycle trip through Northern Africa and the Middle East. It was on this trip that he first met and struck up a friendship with a Libyan hippie and his friends. Then in 2011 Matthew returned to Libya to became a Freedom Fighter in the country’s civil war against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi fighting along side his newly found friends. As well as fighting he managed to film and send back home visual details of the war - that was up until his internment for a period of six months by Gaddafi’s forces!
Using Matthew’s video footage interwoven with interview material shoot by two-time Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker Marshall Curry this documentary tells a harrowing and sometimes humorous story of a young man’s search for political revolution and personal transformation and that elusive crash course in manhood that was so important to our Baltimore adventurer. Hosted at very short notice by Rachel Findlay who gave a rather small, but appreciative audience, some information about the movie. It won the 2014 Best Documentary Award at the Tribeca Film Festival along with a whole load of other award nominations. Also that Curry had not heard of Matthew Vandyke ‘adventures’ before actually meeting him, but when the director explained the story to his wife they unanimously agreed to make the documentary. There was over 200 hours of film to edit including film from Matthew’s childhood, his travel and war footage and the interviews that Curry made with his subject. Rachel informed us that the movie had been described by its director as “a movie for people who like to chew their own food” meaning that he offered no judgement about Matthew or his actions but left it up to the audience to make their own minds up.
A very interesting discussion followed the screening where we agreed that Matthew Vandyke was a likeable non-vindictive character that had successfully succeeded in completing his “crash course in manhood”. We went on to discuses how modern technology had brought war footage into our front rooms virtually as its happened, via You Tube and the modern smartphone; you remember the ones that are financing a war in the DR Congo!
|Marshall Curry interviewing Matthew.|