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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Keith Maitland’s TOWER On Independent Lens

Keith Maitland’s intricately conceived and executed Tower, a hybrid, mixed-media documentary, takes advantage of the versatility and cost-effectiveness of animation to reflect on American’s first mass shooting at a school, from the University of Texas Tower on August 1, 1966, when thirteen were murdered and thirty wounded in ninety-six minutes. As with other experiments in the form, like Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir, rotoscoped animation has the effect of bringing us both closer and removing us from the events, which are also shown in archival footage. (Richard Linklater’s Austin-made Waking Life is, of course, another important reference.)

[A clip: “Pregnant teenager remembers the moment she was shot.]

The mingling of real and unreal, depicting the events via first-person testimonies is dreamy, and it’s a nightmare. It’s also emotionally shattering, a feat of imagination, but also a feat of empathy. Animation allows the witnesses we hear to also remain  the age onscreen they were fifty years ago, innocent, hopeful, not yet under attack. Elemental yet expressionistic, Tower is an admirable attainment, a broadside from the solar plexus, and the powerhouse ending, partially narrated by Walter Cronkite commenting in the day, is magnificently measured. So much tenderness! So much humanity. Those ten minutes so heartfelt, affirmative, I cried.

[Debuts Tuesday, 14 February at 10pm in most markets.]

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Feature films are suffering a kind of bad time right now, in my opinion, because the feature films that play in theaters are blockbusters. That seems to fill the theaters, but the art-house cinema is gone. If I made a feature film, it might play in L.A. and New York, a couple of other places, for a week in a little part of a cineplex, and then it would go who knows where. I built this to be on the big screen. It will be on a smaller screen, but it’s built for the big screen. You want a feature film to play on a big screen with big sound, and utilize all the best technology to make a world. It’s really tough after all that work to not get it in the theater. So I say that cable television is a new art house, and it’s good that it’s here.”
~ David Lynch

“The purpose of film isn’t to present the kindness of the world.”
~ Isabelle Huppert