Sunday, May 06, 2012

Hot Docs Mini Review: Despite the Gods


If you think trying to make a feminist horror-fantasy film is difficult, imagine how hard it would be making that film within the Bollywood system. For director Jennifer Lynch, daughter of famed director David Lynch, the process was an absolute nightmare. In Penny Vozniak’s Despite the Gods, audiences get a first-hand account of the numerous struggles Lynch went through while attempting make her film, HISSS. Although Lynch would eventually disassociate herself with the film after producers re-edited it prior to its release, the experience of making the film is one that Lynch will never forget. With her daughter by her side every step of the way, which was also a point of contention with her producer, Lynch had to wear many different hats throughout the production.

Penny Vozniak gets unfiltered access to Lynch which allows her to capture the constant battles Lynch had with her producer, the harshness and the unpredictability of the elements, the increasingly superstitious crew, and the crowds that would form whenever star Mallika Sherawat was on set. With the film rapidly going over budget, and a shoot that saw Lynch spending over nine months in India, it is a wonder that Lynch managed to stay as optimistic as she did throughout the process. One of the most fascinating aspects of the film comes when Vozniak highlights Lynch’s spirituality. In a land known for its strong spiritual beliefs Lynch seems to be more in tune with both her spirituality and her responsibility to the earth than most of the crew working on the film. Vozniak paints Lynch as a woman who, despite her tough exterior, is more sympathetic than she lets on.

Despite the Gods will no doubt draw comparisons to Lost in La Mancha, another film that documents a doomed film production, but it does not reach the insane comedic heights of that film. Despite the Gods takes a much more grim look at the filmmaking process. In fact, the film will give you a whole new respect for filmmakers who must endure so much in order to see their dreams come to reality. Despite the Gods is an engaging film that should satisfy those interested in how films are made.

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