STAND ñ BY FOR TAPE BACK-UP
(Ross Sutherland, UK). 63 minutes. Rating: NNNN Stand By For Tape Back- up isn’t a documentary, really. Technically, it’s the filmed version of a theatre piece, director/creator Ross Sutherland’s offscreen monologue set to the stuttering, degraded visuals of an old VHS cassette his family used to record TV broadcasts in England in the 80s. But even this presentation, with Sutherland’s voice echoing in a dark theatre, confessing his alienation and depression while fragments of Ghostbusters and the video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller stream past us, has the intimacy and hypnotic pull of live performance.
Images roll back and forth while Sutherland’s voice- over deconstructs and recontextualizes them: slowed down to a fraction of its speed, Bill Murray’s hallway confrontation with that weird green ghost becomes as inexplicable and horrifying as it was to Sutherland as a child, and a commercial for ATM banking folds in on itself to convey a soul- deadening period in his life when he worked a service job and hated every second of it.
It all builds to a remarkable release of emotion, as the best live theatre does. But it works damn well as a recording, too. Apr 24, 6:15 pm, TIFF 3; Apr 25, 1 pm, TIFF 2; May 3, 6: 45 pm, TIFF 3