A Life on the Farm is a found footage movie screening at the Fantasia Film Festival that is unlike any other. For starters, it is not a movie posing as real footage. It is a documentary about an actual video that was filmed in a small village in Somerset, England. Sixteen years ago filmmaker Oscar Harding came across a VHS tape that was left by his quirky neighbor Charles Carson. When Harding tried to watch the tape, his parents did not allow him. Over a decade later, he finally had a chance to watch the tape. What he found shocked him.
The tone is set early on when someone refers to Carson’s videos as darkly funny. Though all of the subjects interviewed try, there is not better way to describe the farmer’s videos. A Life on the Farm is more than just a found footage movie. It is an examination of the film and the man who was behind it. Broken into chapters, it is funny, sad, and morbid.
Despite clearly being broken into sections, A Life on the Farm loses its way at times. Some of the interviews feel ill suited and the documentary potions are never quite as interesting as the film itself. After a strong open that gives a taste of Carson’s titular work, Harding just uses clips intermittently. Invariably, these clips are awesome. Unfortunately, they never are given the chance to fully deliver. Only brief seconds are shown before things cut back to a modern interview.
It is disappointing, because Carson’s story is a fascinating one. His creativity overflows everything he does. Whether it is the odd captions he uses, the way his parents are used, or the skeleton races he staged, Carson’s footage will constantly wow audiences. A Life on the Farm also delves into the man himself, in an effort to look into his reasoning. It is a good idea in theory, and the actual found footage is incomparable, but the documentary segments do not always work as well as planned.
A Life on the Farm is screening at the Fantasia Festival
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