British DJ Joseph Fletcher’s debut film American B-Side is an oddity to say the least, and it gets its world premiere next Sunday at Logan Theater in Chicago. CIMM Fest continues the now 7-year tradition of finding interesting films related in one way or another to the music world. Many of them are straight fiction or documentary, but this one feels like a little bit of both.
Fletcher really did make this journey, just not specifically for the film, After returning to the UK from his trip across the American south, he decided to make a movie to chronicle the story. He also did a radio series featuring some of the people he met along the way. Using Kickstarter to raise some money to go back and do some extra shooting and edit the film properly, he ended up with an artsy picture that generally works on all levels.
Some of the movie reminds me of Paris, Texas (one of my personal favorites). Specifically some of the scenes where Fletcher is alone, with haunting music coming in and out of the speakers and strikingly intense colors painting the screen. Other times it’s a bit like early Errol Morris-meeting eccentric characters and letting them talk at length about their experiences.
I like the idea behind seeking out these forgotten artists found at the bottom of record crates in thrift shops. Most of the acts are heavily Christian-not uncommon in the south. They all have pretty interesting stories about what happened with the music Fletcher heard. The son of Orion, the masked Elvis impersonator, has a really good story. The woman who Fletcher is seeking out for most of the film turns out to be a bit insane, I think, but it makes for good cinema.
I definitely recommend checking American B-Side out for yourself. When it started I didn’t think I’d dig it, but it sucks you in fairly fast. Fletcher isn’t a born filmmaker, but there’s a lot of great material in the 88-minute runtime. Catch it April 19th at Logan Theatre 8:45pm. Grab tickets here.