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Kung Fu filming 

One of the feature films at this week’s Outlier Film Festival, Kung Fu Elliot has emotion and eccentricity to spare

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Kung Fu Elliot
November 29, 6:30pm
The Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen Street
outlierfilmfestival.com


A 30-something man in a karate gi stands outside of CD Heaven in the Dartmouth plaza. He's selling DVDs of his indie action film, They Killed My Cat, and he calls himself Canada's only martial arts hero. Later, his girlfriend Linda sits beside him in Chinese dress. This man is Elliot Scott. And he is a legend.

Premiering in Atlantic Canada at The Outlier Film Fest, Kung Fu Elliot is one of the most honest and entertaining documentaries of the last decade. It follows the former karate champion and his friends as they work together on Elliot's no-budget feature Blood Fight.

But unlike 1999's cult favourite American Movie, an influence for New Brunswick directors Jaret Belliveau and Matt Bauckman, Kung Fu Elliot goes deeper into the dark recesses of a delusional psyche. "It's the most extreme examples of living in a fantasy world," Bauckman says. "It starts off like American Movie but it changes because Mark Borchardt"—American's hero"—is so likeable."

And, at first, so is Scott. "But as things developed, we became very conflicted as filmmakers," says Belliveau. "Because it's on the line. I mean, it's on the razor's edge of, like, is this too much? But we never asked Elliot to make Blood Fight, we never asked him to do anything. We simply went to film a man and his girlfriend."

After following Scott for two summers and on a bizarre trip to China, the story turns into something neither filmmaker could have ever imagined, and sympathy for Scott shifts for troubling reasons.

"Because we got so involved personally, we had an intention to mirror our experience, our whole journey," says Bauckman, which also included showing the emotional dimensions of the supporting cast.

"We wanted to make sure we weren't laughing at them," says Belliveau. "These people happen to be in hilarious situations doing hilarious things but they have real pain so the positioning is important. We became very close to Linda, and Elliot's friends, too. So we wanted to show that, and it took us so long to craft the movie to that effect. It gave us the kind of material to really push the edit and push ourselves."

So much of the film is draped in uncertainties, but at the same time, certain messages emerge. "We were drawn to Elliot by instinct," says Bauckman. "But we weren't sure where it would end, so the only thing we could do was keep going, which turns out to be a message of the film: Don't give up. Follow your dreams." Belliveau adds: "Especially because we were low-budget filmmakers filming low-budget filmmakers. I mean, we could really see ourselves in them. And everybody knows an Elliot."

Already a Best Doc winner at two American festivals, Bauckman and Belliveau are blown away with the film's reception so far: "The biggest compliment as filmmakers is that people really do think it's a mockumentary, they can't believe that it's real," says Bauckman. But Kung Fu Elliot is as real as it gets.

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