EdinDocs 2013 | TakeOneCinema.net

EdinDocs 2013: Thursday Preview

Lyceum Theatre - Venue for EdinDocs 2013 | TakeOneCFF.comOn Thursday 12th September the EdinDocs 2013 festival opens with several shorts, and closes with the incredible feature THE ACT OF KILLING. We reviewed the opening night feature when it was on general release, and here we review some of the excellent selection of shorts lined up for opening night.

Tickets for the opening night of EdinDocs 2013 – and all other nights – can be bought at the Lyceum Theatre Box Office.

Sweet Crude Man Camp

SWEET CRUDE MAN CAMP is a remarkable look into the lives of those working in the oil industry in North Dakota. Presented in fantastically shot black and white, Isaac Gale’s short packs an extraordinary number of people into this portrait of the scramble to be part of the oil boom.

By cross cutting audio across more desolate looking shots, and refraining from close ups on his subjects (often opting for medium-length static profiles) Gale manages to evoke the strange feeling of isolation and bleakness that goes with the topic.

The soundtrack – although gentle – has a terrific effect on the tone of the film. Thanks to music, the seemingly innocuous pastime of line-dancing seems almost post-apocalyptic. Some of the soundbites teased out of his subjects also eerily highlight the unswerving desire to get an oily slice. One man describes the pursuit of his job – which has resulted in sleeping in his car to make it worthwhile financially – as ‘survival of the fittest’. This almost sounds a bit too Darwinian for comfort. It’s also enlightening to hear folk compare themselves to their ‘forefathers’, a comparison that seems idiosyncratically American and indicative of the environment on show.

SWEET CRUDE MAN CAMP also approaches the idea that the oil boom has, in many ways, gutted the towns host to it. An incredible amount is crammed into less than 15 minutes – superbly shot and superbly told.



“In one day you could experience the four seasons” one person says ahead of beginning the Celtman! Extreme Triathlon. Throw in a 4km swim, 202km cycle and a 42km walk over 2 Munros, and the weather would be the least of your worries. George Grigorakis’ short film charts this extreme challenge with some fantastic shots capturing both the intensity required to complete the journey and the stunning locale of Scotland’s Highlands. Swimming POV shots, the sound of crashing water, and some great timelapse photography serve to get all this across.

The shots from the Munro section of the race capture the strange mysticism of being up a misty Scottish mountain, with the obligatory shot of the lonely stag having a more ominous look through the haar. Having really hit the viewer with men shivering horrendously after the opening swim – with over 240km left – whether CELTMAN! has quite enough punch towards its depiction of the gruelling end is open to question. However, with some excellent photography and superb editing in the opening section, CELTMAN! enlightens about its tough namesake in the best way without actually taking part yourself.


Simply Rob

SIMPLY ROB is a short film that relates the story and attitude of Rob Vassilarakis – a Bronx poet diagnosed with HIV at the age of 22. A gentle (although dealing with charged moments and material) but affecting documentary short, Rob rhymes his way through the narration of his life – a story built upon extremely well as director Tom Shrapnel weaves Rob’s ongoing poetry performances and community work into it.

What is striking about the tale of Rob is the creativity he seems to have found in a constant form of adversity. His poetry throughout the film is powerful but lacking in aggression, educating of those who have judged him or reacted less well than he’d wish – but never judgmental itself.

Using Rob’s humility and energy, Shrapnel’s short is not only affecting but well-constructed and understanding of emotional build – moving towards a forgiveness and acceptance that feels a fitting climax to the tone of the story laid out for us.



Meghna Gupta’s UNRAVEL covers the recycling of textiles in India from clothes shipped in from Western countries. Focusing upon the young Reshna, Meghna Gupta’s film does an absolutely fascinating job of bringing to light Reshna’s (and those of her fellow inhabitants of Panipat) perception of Western countries as a result of her processing their clothing waste.

Some of the notions the woman working on the clothing have of Western culture are, on the face of it, quite absurd. However, the clever aspect of this is that by showing us how human beings removed from the West explain this vast waste, and even sense of style, in their own heads, it highlights the absurdities of disposable consumerism for what they are.

In addition, the sound editing in UNRAVEL is superb – taking the metallic scraping and fabric ripping sounds of the process and making them into a much more effective soundtrack to this short than it could have been. UNRAVEL is an extremely well made short; amusing, but also with something to say about the Western world from the outside looking in.