I found this documentary some time ago, years after it was presented. the trailer at the end of this post describes the story well enough. I guess what makes some documentaries important is the gift of the director to "smell" the story before it actually becomes worth it. what makes it exceptional thou is the ability of the director to focus his position about it without interfering with ours (audience).
Amir Bar-Lev is particularly successful in this. He was there from the very beginning, he gives the elements of the story and he state his presence in the scene, and I found this very honest of him. the story involves a little girl and he questions the moral aspects of the documentary itself. obviously every director intrisecally gives a "cut" to his material, few seconds more on the eyes of a person or few less can really change the perception that we have about him/her, but Bar-Lev calls his presence. and this is important for whoever is watching the movie. I really suggest watching the extras of the dvd, they give further elements to question the world of art and the story itself.
how could we say when does an artists have been around too long? I don't know, but for sure I can think of some cases. and on the other hand, when can we say that an artist "left us too soon"? some may say it has nothing do to with the quality of the "product" of the artist, but somehow with how much it fulfilled the needing that his fans have of him/her. elliott smith left us way too soon, there's no doubt about it, and in his case there's a fascinating fact. his fans never stopped looking for more recordings and footage. it usually happens in a collectible/sterile way, but in his name it's more of a gathering to help each other to get over it. this is why after the last and posthumous "new moon" (2007) we can have three new full length of quite often indite songs. and they are all free online. for lovers and fans.
it's a great gesture of affection, deep sympathy and community. something he would have probably appreciated.
when my youth was on fire (and my back in one piece) I used to skate. I went on skating for years in my legendary neighbourhood called "MirafioriNord" in the surprisingly quite pretty suburban area that crowns the Mirafiori Fiat factory. the grain of the asphalt was rough and hard to ride, there were no structures at all and we used to grind and slide pretty much anything with an edge. he board and the trucks were just not sliding without approaching the obstacle with a wild anger. occasionally we were getting duplicates of VHS tapes from the unites states and we were gathering in someone's sittingroom to look at these pros. it was magical. we used to hear about these tapes for weeks before actually seeing them and it really was a "happening". I never agreed with my mates about who was the coolest guy in most of the videos, it was mostly a guy called Ed templeton. I was mad for him, to me he was using skate to communicate about himself. he wasn't particularly gracious or technical (compared to the others) but he really really really wanted to make the trick he was doing and he was ejoying it to the fullest. he really really wanted to skate and he was never showing off. tight trousers (far more than an outsider in the early nineties), sixties shoes and skating on pretty much anything with an edge.
I was pleased to find out that already at the time he was part of a fantastically REAL art scene that has been beautifully described in the documentary "beautiful losers" (2008). I extremely recommend it. to put it as IMDB.com does: "The greatest cultural accomplishments in history have never been the result of the brainstorms of marketing men, corporate focus groups, or any homogenized methods; they have always happened organically. More often than not, these manifestations have been the result of a few like-minded people coming together to create something new and original for no other purpose than a common love of doing it. In the 1990s, a loose-knit group of American artists and creators, many just out of their teens, began their careers in just such a way."