Sundance Review: Kid-Thing

Obviously I am saving the best for last. First, a disclaimer: I first met the Zellner Brothers when Brent & I were out in Northern California installing a project in a museum and the Austin Texas based Zellner's were in town at the same time for film festival related events. I didn't talk to them too much but we all ate burritos together, watched a bank get robbed (I swear!) and ambled the streets under the direction of Cinemad's Mike Plante. After this encounter (did I mention they were wearing matching track suits?) I was fascinated so I sought out all I could find by them starting with their first feature film, Goliath (about a man who loses his cat and his wife, finding someone to displace his rage on like a true American Texan!). After the hilarious shock & awe of that film, I went on to watch all of their shorts I could find, each a creative bitter comedy in a voice unlike any other. Wow.

Kid-Thing, the Zellner's second feature, was so fucking awesome that I am really confused as to why this film is not the god damn immediate smash hit of the festival! The fable of a little girl, Annie, who is filled with inexplicable rage acts as a parable for our own country, fearing the unknown, acting with brute force, and searching for a way to be a human when no real definition for such exists, Kid- Thing is not only a perceptive narrative but also a beautifully constructed film. The details that went into creating this story- the lush imagery, the complex sound design, even applying their signature off kilter, self styled comedic rhythms to the pacing/editing of this dark cinematic journey- made this film a classic Zellner spectacle on a whole new level!

I really cannot describe how perfect and layered this film is, even down to the Edvard Munch/Alice Neel/Judy Blume like marketing (pin-on-my-sweater & card pictured here, along w/a photo of the Zellner's at a Q&A) that is so, so fitting to the adolescent symbolist figures Kid-Thing constructs. I also cannot describe the scenes of Annie exploding bananas, squashing grubs and tearing at tree trunks with the depth that this little girl brings to this difficult role, nor can I capture the essence of how lost and sad her life is (especially given her slow, well meaning, childlike father trying to better himself but directionless at the same time, a role poignantly portrayed by a sort of Lennie-like Nathan Zellner). Lastly I can't describe the fairytale tone that this film takes on, teaching a lesson on human kindness, fear and compassion in the wake of America's increasingly dark days. The film makes me as an audience member ache to help Annie, bringing out the desire for human connection that is falling behind in today's world, brought to us in a technological medium that is also tied to the very disconnect we have between eachother. Kid-Thing will remind you that you are not just a passive audience member, you are a thinking, acting human being: SEE THIS FILM. Dammit!



Donna K. is a recent transplant to the Midwest where she can be found exploring culture at large through film programming, writing and her general interest in the world- both on and offline.