Director Tony Buba / 1989 / USA

This first feature from Tony Buba, Pennsylvania's filmic poet laureate, is a delightful, unconventional, autobiographical tour de force.

Called 'the Faulkner of Allegheny County the Flaherty of the frozen blast furnace,' Tony Buba has been making films about his hometown, Braddock, Pennsylvania, a dying stcelmill town, for fifteen years. Lightning Over Braddock marks his first departure from documentary form. Buba is the central character in this ambitious leap into surrealism, mixing fact and fantasy and transplanting subjects of his earlier movies into scripted scenes. It is a whimsical personal odyssey in which a very funny, foul-mouthed street hustler named Sat (from Buba's earlier film Sweet Sal) competes with striking steel workers and the film-maker himself for star billing. Buba calls Lightning Over Braddock 'a work of fiction, a fantasy.'

Setting the film amidst the realities of Braddock gives it. considerable political offer. Buba critiques his own relationship to the town and his preference for being a big fish in a small pond. That is, with dying mill towns a hot media subject, his own fortunes have increased in direct proportion to the area's layoffs.

'Lightning Over Braddock' synthesises his earlier work in a kaleidoscopic cross-fertilisacion of fictional and documentary techniques, with echoes of Dauid Hohman's Diary, Sherman's March and Chan Is Missing in its structure, Buba teases the audience mercilessly, to the point where we can never be sure just where the line between fiction and fact lies. A true original.

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