21 April 2005 | turkam
Another great film from Steve James
The director of "Hoop Dreams" and "stevie" has made another wonderful documentary film. The film profiles independent film guru John Pierson's 'mission' to bring back a cinema in the remotest island of the Fijis. Among his selections are Hollywood popcorn movies like "Bringing Down the House," hits like "X-Men," classics like "Apocalypse Now!" and Buster Keaton's "Stemaboat Bill Jr.", and even some Bollywood offerings and in one instance, some student films from Temple University. The biggest hit of them all seems to be "Jackass," which was encouraged by Pierson's 11 year old son, Josh. The film also captures the family's struggles to live in a far away place where modern technology is largely unavailable (no internet). There is also a battle with the local Catholic church, as its clergy feel that the cinema is competing with evening services. The film reminded of my own experiences at an outdoor cinema in Buyukada (an island near Istanbul) in Turkey where I spent several summers during my teenage years (I grew up here, but my father was from Turkey). Reel Paradise is a great tribute to the cinema, and even people who are not film fanatics will be genuinely moved by this film. Kudos to Kevin Smith for backing the project, and too everyone involved with Reel Paradise.