By Ted Hope | Hope for Film November 3, 2011 at 8:30AM
What are you doing this weekend? If you had any friends that came to Tuesday night's HopeForFilm Screening at Goldcrest of Tristan Patterson's SxSW Audience Award winning film DRAGONSLAYER, I am sure that's what you'll now be going to see, because the word was "that good"! When I put on a screening, I also write a letter letting my list know why I care about the film. This is that letter for Dragonslayer.
Dear Film Fans,
It's hard to find much good with the speculative & irresponsible practices of our financial sector, but the devastation they've delivered is the quiet but extremely resonant backdrop for Tristan Patterson's fascinating character study of a skater named Skeetch. A doc delivered with tremendous affection towards what might have been mistaken for human wasteland, Tristan finds the beauty in his focus akin to the glory Skeetch and his tribe find in the tracts of abandoned homes and pools that become both their playlands and sketchpads. Artists abound on all sides of the camera, painting on an incredibly intimate scale. This is documentary as portraiture, as true to its form as it is to its content.
Film, like life, could/should be ours to invent, but the outside pressures frequently push us in over-worn directions; Tristan and Skeetch resist those forces to forge a work and a character unique but emblematic of our times. Skeeth has a skating style of his own, launched with abandon, punctuated with enthusiasm, and dismissing injury or error as a long ago accepted given. His ramshackle heart is mined by Patterson as a golden ray in a world dominated by artifice and posture -- and through that, I defy you to not end up wishing our film diet could be populated by other reciprocal minstrels and artists with the restraint, discipline, observation, and heart of Patterson. This may be his first film, but you know there's more to come.
DRAGONSLAYER is a handmade antidote to the corporate embrace of skateboard culture. It is ode to individuality and a ballad to hard times. It is of no surprise that SXSW's audience rallied around it, awarding it well-deserved honor, prestige, and cred, and we are delighted to welcome it into our home as well. DRAGONSLAYER may be close to number seventy in the long line of cinematic pleasures, Christine Vachon and her merry band of collaborators have delivered to this world -- a remarkable act of commitment and fortitude in this enterprise that sometimes seems hellbent on driving out the last ounce of resistance to a corporate world of false dreams, promises, and opportunity. It seems remarkable that this is the first film of hers we've shown, but what could be a better way to start?
Hope to see you there,