By Don Simpson | June 20, 2013
Director: Michael M. Bilandic
Writer: Michael M. Bilandic
Starring: Keith Poulson, Sophia Takal, Brent Butler, Kate Lyn Sheil, Chuck McCarthy, Zohren Weiss, Tom McCaffrey, Sarah O’Sullivan, Benvolio Tomaiuolo, Duane C. Wallace, Clarke Bliss, Gilles Decamps
When Lexie (Kate Lyn Sheil) breaks up with Nate (Keith Poulson) for an untalented pastel artist in pigtails, Nate decides to try to [re]discover himself as an artist. Drowning in a world of “incestuous New York City socialite shit” where untalented hacks are deemed successful by the high brow elite, Nate must find a way to carve out his own niche.
By cocaine-fueled happenstance, Nate stumbles upon a no budget rap-rock video by Young Torture Killaz, a group of high school kids from rural Delaware. With outsider art still very much en vogue, Nate travels to Delaware to photograph the band in their natural element. In a half-hearted attempt to legitimize the endeavor, he approaches the excursion like an ethnographic study, striving to immerse himself into their culture.
Nate’s friend Bernadette (Sophia Takal) hesitantly goes along for the ride. Unlike her incredibly naive friend who thinks high school kids can do no harm, Bernadette is rightfully frightened about venturing into the basement hangout of a bunch of drug-addled teens donning psychotic clown make-up who have penned such violently shocking songs as “I’ll Cut Yo Dick Off.” Functioning as the film’s voice of reason, Bernadette sees right through Nate’s intentions even if Nate remains totally oblivious to everything that he is doing.
Distracted by the potential fame that a solo show could quickly provide him, Nate quickly evolves into just another selfish, pretentious and condescending New York City artist. Human relationships no longer matter to him since a successful show will provide him with all of the love and attention that he needs. As he sees it, everything hinges on this one show and establishing himself as an artist is much more important than any friendship.
Hellaware teeters the fine line between satire and caricatures, poking fun at art culture and white rap-rock, specifically the significant role that shock value has taken in the creative industry. Visual art and music focus so much on inciting a reaction and judgment rather than promoting creativity and talent. Even more embarrassing is the tendency in creative industries to reward bad art for being so bad it’s good.
(The world premiere of Hellaware will be on Saturday, June 22nd at BAMcinemaFest 2013.)