Nathan Silver / US, 2016 / 75 min.
Actor Martinez is the outcome of a collaboration between two genuine indie filmmakers, Mike Ott and Nathan Silver. The pair produced a mystifying, tragicomic ‘documentary’ about computer repairman Arthur Martinez, a man looking to be famous. Part of Looking for America: Slackers.
It seems like a typically American and slightly over-the-top idea: hiring two filmmakers to document your life in the hope it will bring you fame and fortune. Computer repairman Arthur Martinez dreams of bigger things than mending PCs and laptops; he”s also a film producer and an aspiring actor. He wants to land a part in a film – and the carefully staged documentary Mike and Nathan are meant to make is the first step in this master plan.
Soon, however, the documentary makers realize there isn”t all that much going on in Martinez” life: the footage of Arthur doing a tai chi workout, hanging out with Denver”s theatre crowd and driving through town is hardly gripping stuff. How to make a success of it? Inevitably there”s a clash between Martinez and the filmmakers, who are constantly on his back and regularly appear on screen to comment on Martinez” dull little life.
When Actor Martinez was released it was received as a fascinating experimental meta-movie: an unsettling exploration of the relationship between filmmaker and subject and the thin line between fact and fiction. As a recalcitrant film it also makes a statement on the commercialized arthouse film circuit: quasi-independent indies that pretend to be original but cater to mainstream taste.
Looking for America
This autumn Eye is taking an inquisitive look at the United States. How does the age-old ideal of a ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ relate to the difficult reality of today?