Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter and Fast Trip, Long Drop

These exceptional personal documentaries add up to a potent double bill; of the nonfiction films in the festival that I’ve seen, these are in many ways the best. Deborah Hoffman’s Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter, which deals only in passing with the fact that the director’s a lesbian, is a beautifully precise, acute, intelligent, practical, touching, and even (at times) comic record of how she copes with her discovery that her mother has Alzheimer’s disease. Using video and audio recordings of her interactions with her mother and some on-camera statements of her own, Hoffman charts in haunting detail precisely what memory loss entails, not only for her mother but for herself as she adjusts to the situation. Full of wisdom and insight, this 44-minute essay film is far from depressing. The same is true of Gregg Bordowitz’s 54-minute, deconstructive Fast Trip, Long Drop (1993), an autobiographical essay about the filmmaker’s 1988 discovery that he’d tested HIV-positive and his subsequent life, including his decision to quit drugs and drinking and come out to his mother and stepfather. Making semi-ironic use of silent found footage and Jewish music, Bordowitz speaks about his late father and his sex life; he also includes conversations with various friends (including filmmaker Yvonne Rainer), his own documentary footage of AIDS rallies, a tour of his bookshelves, and a bitter parody of the way the media have treated AIDS. Nothing in this work is taken for granted, and Bordowitz’s bracing anger and inventive playfulness are both life enhancing. Sunday, November, 13, Music Box, 1:00.

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