Gonzo and American Teen announced for London Film Festival

September 10th, 2008 posted by Rebecca Frankel

The line-up for London Film Festival was announced at this morning’s press launch, after an exhausting list of sponsor thanks. The 2 documentaries I most immediately want to see, having already read much about them, are Alex Gibney’s Gonzo and American Teen.

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S Thompson uses Alex Gibney’s forensic skill of finding and weaving archival material together, to illuminate his contradictory life and gonzo approach to writing. Johnny Deep narrates from Hunter’s own words, a wise move following his apt casting as Hunter in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The film was immediately more profitable than his previous, Oscar winning documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side. It plays as the Documentary Gala choice.

I have been anticipating seeing American Teen greatly, since it’s rave reviews at Sundance, where Nanette Burstein received the Documentary Directing Award for it. Set in Warsaw, Indiana, the film focus on five students in their final year of high school. Each fits one of the archetypes we know from, well, high school movies. So there is the jock, nerd, cheerleader, loner and rich kid. This cliche has been used to brilliant effect in the poster – a marketing rip off of The Breakfast Club poster.

Nanette Burstein spent a year filming constantly with the kids, to make a verite style documentary that captures all of their key moments and adventures. However, there has been some critics who have question just how authentic parts of the footage is, as the film cuts almost like it’s been scripted, especially phone conversations filmed from both ends and scenes captured with gratuitously good timing of the crew’s presence. Whether this is due to her relationship with her characters is to be discovered – none of the kids captured say they were acting in any way.

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