[Boston Underground Film Festival] Documentaries: MexMan (2018) - Reviewed

MexMan screened at BUFF 2018

MexMan (2018), directed by Josh Polon, and written by Polon and Alex Mackenzie is a sumptuous visual feast into the world of filmmaking, and the personal story of German Alonso, a talented artist, to fulfill his dreams of becoming a filmmaker. The film stars German Alonso, Jonathan Sims and Tyler Soper. The documentary recently screened at the Boston Underground Film Festival.

The narrative of making a feature film is juxtaposed against Alonso’s backstory, his creativity, and his eccentric behaviour and the simmering tensions between Alonso and his colleagues. MexMan is an eye-opener into the collaborative nature of filmmaking and the inherent tug of wills and egos that goes with the turf which is dramatized in the documentary moving the narrative and creating dramatic tension.

Polon weaves together many visual elements to create a compelling documentary. They include excerpts of Alonso’s highly imaginative and creative student films and artist projects, archival footage, a recreated pivotal moment from Alonso’s life and its re-imagined ending, voice-over over stills, and narration. It also includes first person interviews with Alonso, his friend Ismael, and film colleagues Jon Sims and Tyler Soper, animation, shooting the assignment piece with movie star Jason Beghe, and Alonzo’s personal own Hollywood assignment for film producer Moctesuma Esparza, to frame and contextualize Alonso’s life, struggles and filmic dreams. Polon uses interstitial titles to structure the documentary. Close ups and medium angles shots are interspersed with wide angle shots, and the film incorporates both day and night and interior and exterior footage.

Alonso is such a likeable character, and his voice impersonations are a hoot. He is very candid with his life, and given everything that he has personally gone through; you are secretly rooting for him. I highly recommend the film for it’s a moving documentary that creates an intimate portrait of a quirky young man, an immigrant to the United States from Mexico, trying to live his dreams.

MexMan is a well-crafted and thought out documentary with a twist. It's a fascinating glimpse into the world of filmmaking and a cautionary tale for any aspiring filmmaker. It has tremendous educational value and should be included in the curriculum of film schools. 

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-Stefan Chiarantano