The 58th Cork Film Festival (9 – 17 November)
Matt Micucci at the 58th Cork Film Festival reports on Silence is Gold and Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton.
Silence is Gold (Julien Fréchette)
Silence is Gold is a real-life tale of David and Goliath. Documentarian Julien Fréchette followed the controversial events surrounding the release of a book on Canadian mining companies in Africa called Noir Canada, which saw its writers and publishers sued by giant companies Barrack Gold and Banro.
Rather than being investigative, blatantly picking one side over the other and using an investigative approach, Fréchette carefully chooses to retain a certain distance and mostly play the role of observer. Silence is Gold, in fact, doesn’t really come up with its own conclusions but is rather content with raising certain issues about Canadian mining in Africa, the media and the Canadian juridical system in a way that wants and seeks audience interaction.
The pace is energetic and we witness the events as they happen. This heightens an element of tension and suspense that makes it entertaining in a film that also offers an insightful and intimate look at writer Alan Denault as he carries the weight of the situation on his shoulders with worried, yet faithful, determination.
Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton (Stephen Silha, Eric Slade, Dawn Logson)
Who is James Broughton? James Broughton is a poet and poetic filmmaker that time has inexplicably forgotten. And yet, as this wonderful documentary shows, not only is his work delightful but also characteristically unique in its imaginative approach, often quirky and funny but always deep and personal. On top of that, he was also quite a fascinating character whose infectiously positive attitude is faithfully represented in this equally infectiously entertaining film.
Big Joy, in fact, is one of those rare instances where a traditionally structured biographical documentary seems to truly and wholly connect with its character through an imaginative visual approach and a deep understanding of its subject’s joie-de-vivre as well as his internal struggles. Furthermore, it presents a particularly intimate portrayal of his own journey of discovery in his coping with his homosexuality from its painful awakening to his full acceptance and celebration of his idea of universal love and sexuality.
Interviews with his close friends and relatives, footage from his films, lots of great stills from the time and priceless access to pages of his own personal journal allow us to get real close to the late artist. But what is perhaps even more remarkable is the chance that Big Joy offers Broughton to inspire a new generation of followers and artists, much like he did when he was alive.