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Tarnation

Tarnation

On Saturday night, I moderated a Q&A with Jonathan Caouette after a UnionDocs screening of his debut feature, the 2004 experimental documentary Tarnation. I hadn’t seen the film in years, but it was one of my favorites of the last decade: a deeply personal but incredibly engaging “home movie” that chronicles the sad life of Jonathan’s mother and her family. The film holds up very well, despite being edited on the outdated iMovie software. Jonathan’s mom was in the room, but left after the film ended and did not take part in the Q&A. Which is fine, I can’t imagine how hard it is for her to relive the painful struggle so artfully captured in the film. One thing I realized while taking the L train back to Manhattan, is that the odds of Tarnation receiving theatrical/DVD distribution in 2010, would be pretty slim. It was a release by Wellspring, who have been out of the business for almost as long as Tarnation has been in the world. It’s a brave and daring and unconventional film that would have had a very different life today, a life with less conventional structure in its release. Here’s the trailer:

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