There is no shortage of documentaries at Twin Cities Film Fest and these two caught my eye right away. Check out my reviews below:
BLACK DADDY: THE MOVIE (2022)
The tagline of this film says: Any man can father a child, but it takes a real man to raise one. Powerful words couldn’t be more true. Black Daddy The Movie is a documentary that asks the question: What does it mean to be a Black father in America? It’s a passion project from Oakland-based musician Damon Jamal “Dame Drummer” Taylor who is a father himself. Naturally, black fatherhood is a topic that’s dear to his heart, as well as the hearts of his friends and fellow black fathers.
I was immediately drawn to this film as the media rarely portray black men in this light. There seems to be an unfair stereotype that black fathers aren’t involved in their kids’ lives, whether they’re too busy with their careers or worse, that they stray from their families or are incarcerated. Taylor interviews a dozen or so black men from various walks of life about the joy, pain, and complexity of their own experience as a father. It’s wonderful to see black men showing their emotions and vulnerability as they share challenges and fears about raising kids. It also shows the filmmaker hanging out together, eating, and praying together with his friends and peers… displaying a great support system among them. I also appreciate how they openly share their faith and how important God is in their lives.
Given his musical background, there are musical interludes interspersed throughout the film, featuring other Oakland-based musicians such as Mike Blankenship, Kev Choice, Karega Bailey, and Ryan Austin. I find the hip-hop music videos pretty entertaining, though I personally would rather see more stories. From custody battles, dealing with long-distance parenting, and lacking father figures as role models, there are a lot of fatherhood issues that this film covers.
As someone who grew up without a dad, the part where Taylor revisits his past and talks about the men in his life who serve as parental figures resonates with me. Sometimes, those who end up being a crucial influence in our lives aren’t necessarily those connected to us biologically.
Now, as a first-time filmmaker, I think the filmmaking technique and the pacing could be improved. That said, I find this film so compelling and uplifting about enforcing responsibility while also deconstructing damaging stereotypes about black men. It’s something thought-provoking and timely we all need to see in the world today.
ORIGAMI IN THE GARDEN (2022)
I love origami art and romance so Origami In The Garden offers that sweet and unique combo I’ve never seen before in a documentary. Now, people traditionally view origami as a small-space art that you see displayed in the interior of someone’s home, school, or office, but the origami art displayed in this film showcase tiny paper design all the way to huge metal sculptures. But what’s even more unique is the love story of the husband-and-wife artists, Kevin and Jenifer Box, who met at a Santa Fe art gallery and immediately fell head over heels in love.
Kevin is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York, while Jennifer was a dancer in NYC who has created and performed her own costumes. Such an interesting but seemingly unrelated backgrounds, but they end up collaborating on an art series years later. Directed by Santa Fe-based filmmaker Barbara Bentree, Origami in The Garden traces the career of the two artists, starting with Kevin’s background in metal sculptures. Over the years, he ends up coming up with a unique technique of ‘unfolding’ origami and casting the patterns into stunning wall hangings. Kevin has an upbeat personality which makes him a fun ‘talking head’ as he shares his artistic journey. The film also features famous artists in the origami world who became Kevin’s mentors, Dr. Robert Lang, Beth Johnson, and Michael LaFosse.
I love the tagline of the film… Every fold has a consequence… just like every decision of your life. The sculptures themselves are unique and beautiful, amazingly detailed even on a massive scale. Watching this film makes me want to check out the stunning art installations in person. Apparently, I missed the traveling exhibition at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum back in 2018, but maybe one day I’ll get to see it. Their official site offers a virtual tour of the art studio and sculpture garden, but it’s cool to learn about the origin story through the film.
It’s another proof that art/creativity is a cathartic experience that all of us can always be inspired by.
Stay tuned for more coverage of TCFF 2022!