SXSW FILM 2010
By Don Simpson | March 10, 2010
Director: Monteith McCollum
I sometimes think I am one of the only people in the United States that would prefer if we could reset some of the world’s technological advancements, for example: go back to the pre-automobile days…or at least to the days before every household had multiple automobiles. Now, I say this but my actions contradict my words. I own a car, but I avoid driving said car as often as possible. (For example, I am hoping to go the entire 2010 SXSW Film Festival without using my car.) I should also admit that I do not currently own a bicycle. My primary means of transportation are the bus and my own two feet.
Two of the main reasons that I own a car are: the public transportation system in Austin is mediocre at best (still waiting on Light Rail) and I do not like riding a bicycle alongside traffic. Give me access to a better public transportation system and dedicated bike routes that do not run inches away from automobiles, then I will in turn get rid of my car.
OK, I am supposed to be writing about A Different Path…but, trust me, my ramblings are somewhat relevant – mainly because I finally found people that I can truly relate to when it comes to alternative forms of transportation.
Director Monteith McCollum utilizes abstract animated images that are cleverly intertwined with the stories of Richard Dyksterhuis, Michael Johnson, Dan Hughes and Miguel Cameos. Even the interviews themselves attempt to stay clear of the conventional talking head format as much as possible, preferring to use carefully crafted yet somewhat random images whose intent is to captivate and amaze rather than bore (which talking heads are prone to do) the viewer.
Richard Dyksterhuis is a car-less senior citizen stranded in the suburban and strip mall wasteland of the Lesser Outer Seattle Territories (“LOST”). All he wants is a way for fellow senior citizens to get around without having to drive cars. (Is that too much to ask?!) First and foremost, Richard wants the city to build more sidewalks and curbs in his neighborhood (to get from point A to point B, Richard must navigate his way along the shoulders of busy highways and across endless parking lots). If it makes you feel any better, Richard, I want more sidewalks where I live too.
In Toronto, we meet Michael Johnson – a trumpeter, avid bicyclist and community activist. Michael leads a community group (Streets for the People) whose objective is to reclaim the streets of Toronto for the people. Similar to Critical Mass, Streets for the People organizes large masses of people to walk and ride through the streets, temporarily blocking traffic in order to keep the streets safe for the people.
There is also Miguel Cameos from Portugal. He does not like automobiles either. He once read about a guy in New York named Dan Hughes who used to take a kayak across the Hudson River to travel between his apartment on the Upper West Side and his office in Edgewater, New Jersey. Miguel started using a kayak in Portugal to get to work – why not? (Dan no longer lives in New York and he no longer uses his kayak to get to work, but that is because he works from home.)