Wednesday, May 6, 2015

HotDocs 2015 Film Review - Seth's Dominion

Seth (Gregory Gallant) spends a lot of time in his head. He writes a comic strip called Palookaville plus has many other outlets to fill his creative mind. Seth is the epitome of quirky from the nature of his perfusion being alone for most of the day to his every present hat and spectacles. He prefers the term Cartoon Strip to Graphic Novel seeing the genre as the perfect venue to tell mundane in interior stories as opposed to grandiose adventures.

Director Luc Chamerland uses a combination of interviews and NFB short files to present the story. The story was crafted between 2006-2013 during a series of interviews with Seth. The cartoonist stories are about his life. His childhood accounts focus on the writer's strong affection for his mother. He speaks of her laughter in another part of his house when he was writing his comics as a child. He laments his decision as a big boy to not kiss his mother again which stood until he was adult.  He talks about his transistor radio that he would turn on when his patents were fighting.

Seth's early adulthood is the next main feature of the film. These years were mainly spent alone and when not writing Gallant would go for extensive walks paying attention to the most mundane things. On one walk he comes across someone weekly garbage stopping to listen a disregarded greeting card playing for he's a jolly good fellow. Another a regular walk through a series of garbage dumpsters arrange in a circle where Seth used to state his current thoughts out loud.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspects of the film are Seth's hobbies that could be stand alone careers on their own.  He is building a town in his basement out of cardboard boxes.  He paints and often puts on marionette shows. Seth admits that he is one for nostalgia looking to a golden past. Then there is his daily routine. Starting with an 8:00 wake followed by starting work in his basement studio at 9:00 all the way to his serious evening writing between 8:30 and 11 or 11:30 P.M. He takes time out for dinner with his wife between 6 and 7 plus a nap at 7:00 because after all he is a fifty-year-old man.

Seth's Dominion is an eventful study of the personal quirks and activities of an artistic mind. The directors capture Seth's unconventional personality, traits and take on everyday life.  They delve in detail into his method to produce his craft. Seth is an intriguing character with many layers that could have filled a production twice as long. But as he states in the end he will not do another documentary on himself again. It's  a film that I can recommend.

*** Out of 4.

Seth's Dominion | Luc Chamberland | Canada | 2014 \ 42 Minutes.

Tags; Cartoonist, Graphic Novel, Loner, Quirk, Guelph, Strathroy, Nostalgia.

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