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TIFF 2011: Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, Surviving Progress? and Urbanized

TIFF 2011: Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, Surviving Progress? and Urbanized featured image

TIFF 2011
Report #2
Real to Reel: the hard-hitting factual sequel
September 6, 2011

By Marc Glassman

Covering: Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, Surviving Progress? and Urbanized

The title of this TIFF report, “Real to Real: the hard-hitting factual sequel,” is a nod to documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock whose new film Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope is, in turn, a tribute to the lengthy titles crafted by George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars.

Mind you, Spurlock’s last film Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Film Ever Sold was just as long as anything created by Lucas. Obviously, they’re both auteurs.

In Comic-Con, to give Mr. Spurlock’s film a little brevity to go along with its wit, the ironic-quipster-filmmaker focuses his lenses on the world’s biggest comic convention, which has taken place in San Diego since 1970. The convention started small but, boy, is it big now! Over 100,000 people came to this year’s fair. It clearly appeals to the inner nerd of a large section of the male population in North America–and some females, too. From commix, the Con has gone on to include films, anime, video-games and nearly anything else that’s fantastic and can be merchandized to a pop culture loving public.

Spurlock’s film investigates Comic-Con’s phenomenal phenomena through young fans falling their hearts (if not their heads) and a bunch of grizzled veterans including Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen, Joss Whedon and Todd McFarlane.

Real to Reel’s programme moves from subject to subject: that’s the beauty of docs. A trio of important names can be viewed on the credits of Surviving Progress? as producers–Martin Scorsese, Mark Achbar (The Corporation) and Denise Robert (The Barbarian Invasions). Their presence adds weight to Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks’ inventive take on Ronald Wright’s Massey Lecture, A Short History of Progress. This film dares to ask: where are we going? Are we making progress? Or are we destroying the planet?

Moving from tales of chimpanzees trying to figure out human puzzles to the greatest puzzle of all–why are we risking the world in order to maintain a lifestyle for the privileged few–the film offers beautifully crafted visuals and articulate thought about the traps we’re running into as we try to “progress.” This isn’t a funny film–Mr. Spurlock is far more amusing–but Surviving Progress? offers interesting ideas and opinions from brilliant speakers like Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking, Margaret Atwood and, of course, Mr. Wright.

This report is being typed out in Helvetica, the font that inspired Gary Hustwit’s most famous film. A filmmaker who is clearly involved with interior design (Objectified), typography (Helvetica) and architecture, Mr. Hustwit is able to bring his passion and expertise to Urbanized, which will screen at TIFF.

With the majority of people being city-dwellers for the first time ever in history, it’s time to look more closely at how metropolises run. Hustwit is aware of the contributions of urban theorists and activists like Jane Jacobs and Rem Koolhaus and he places much thought into the cities he shows in the film.

Urbanized looks at cities as disparate as the rapidly growing Mumbai to the declining rust belt icon Detroit. A new movement in Bogota, backed by the Mayor, puts public transportation ahead of cars. Wonder what our Mayor would think of that? For some of us, Urbanized is a must-see.

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