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OUT OF SIGHT

USA, 1993 (MIFF 1994, Documentaries)

Director: David Sutherland

Put away all your sentimental, politically correct assumptions about "inspirational" films and prepare to be strapped in for a ride through the surreal soap-umentary that is the life of thirty-four-year-old blind Californian cowgirl, Diane Starin. Candid, uncompromising and unexpected, this piece of Twin Peaks-ish nonfiction pulls no punches and neither does Starin. "I think people are ready for a story about a blind woman who's raising a family, having a career, or both. What I wonder is if they're ready for a blind woman who's in her thirties living with a man in his sixties (Herb), in a relationship that deals with alcohol and infidelity. In other words, I don't know if America is ready for a blind girl who isn't a goody two-shoes."

Displaying a talent for unfettered self-revelation, Starin unabashedly parades the messier aspects of her life (including the fact that she is cheating on Herb and has a rather self-interested view of his potentially imminent demise) and cruises roadhouses picking up hot-to-trot big bellied cowboys and salivating businessmen.

Though never sacrificing his subject's dignity for the rollicking good time, Sutherland takes us into the realm of the macabre when events from their past are restaged by the protagonists themselves. These highly stylised re-enactments combine with interviews, and fly-on-the-wall observations to shatter all stereotypes of the helpless and reliant sightless person. Few documentaries provide such edge-of-your-seat entertainment and sagacious perceptions.

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