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Review: follow Geoff Butler's footsteps Off The Beaten Path 

A dynamic subject makes this local doc an entertaining ride.

click to enlarge Geoff Butler is best known for his Canadiana-steeped riffs on modernist art. - TRAILER STILL
  • Geoff Butler is best known for his Canadiana-steeped riffs on modernist art.
  • Trailer still
Newfoundland artist and author Geoff Butler is the subject of the locally made documentary Off The Beaten Path, which seeks to summarize his life and work. While the film itself is rather plainly put together, Butler is an intriguing enough individual that looking into his work makes for an enjoyable 45-minute experience.
The film traces Butler's childhood to his making a career in self-published art books and, then, writing his own children’s books. Butler explains the various art he has made over the years—as well as his reasoning and motivation behind particular pieces.

The main strength of the film is with Butler, who is a strong orator, consistently remaining entertaining, emotional and occasionally funny while telling the entire story of his life and work. He very convincingly explains why each step of his art—while often times very different than what came before—was necessary and important at that point in his life.

The art itself also plays a prominent role, oftentimes being the backdrop to Butler’s narration. It is thankful then that most of the work shown off is very good and quite varied (ranging from disturbing images of war to calming images of bird boxes), which keeps things visually interesting.

The film, however, does feel limited in its budget and scope—oftentimes feeling like there could have been more to it: Most notably, the fact that Butler is the only one interviewed feels like a missed opportunity which fails to give a larger perspective on his work.

Off The Beaten Path is a film which is engaging because its subject matter is an interesting person to follow, even if the filmmaking is rather standard.

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Vol 27, No 43
March 19, 2020

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