For various reasons, I’ve been lucky enough to see many of the films screening at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (which begins this weekend). But, of the Sundance features I’ve seen, the one that I think will take many audiences by surprise is TV Junkie. Premiering in the documentary competition program, this film is a tough one to describe but also pretty close to fantastic, engrossing, and captivating. So, I’ll turn it over to friend and Sundance programmer Trevor Groth and his program notes:
Rick Kirkham got his first video camera when he was 14 years old. It became his best friend and confidant. From that point on, he began documenting every facet of his life. He got his first break in TV as a dancer on American Bandstand. A little nudge from Dick Clark to pursue a career in television, and he was on his way. He quickly rose through the ranks from local TV news to a gig as a national correspondent for Inside Edition. His girlfriend then got pregnant, and they got married. Everything was golden…or was it? The flip side of his life was another story, and his camera shockingly captured both with the same candor and vigor. What unfolds in TV Junkie is a riveting journey into the heart of darkness, where one man’s fight for survival is caught on tape in an unprecedented way. A self-imposed The Truman Show with a dark twist, TV Junkie transcends one man’s tragic story and becomes a harrowing reflection on a generation obsessed with celebrity and technology. Utilizing more than 3,000 hours of footage, directors Michael Cain and Matt Radecki tackle the Herculean task of editing it with intelligence, compassion, and honesty to tell this unbelievable story that is both a cautionary tale and a gripping portrait of a TV junkie.— Trevor Groth
And no, co-director Michael Cain is not the actor, Michael Caine. He’s the head of Dallas’ Deep Ellum Film Festival.