SF Indiefest: I HATE MYSELF :)

First show: February 14


Director: Joanna Arnow
Film Category: Documentary
Running Time: 56
Country: USA
Year of Release: 2013
Premier: West Coast Premiere

Smart, funny and shockingly frank i hate myself :) turns an unvarnished gaze onto nebbishy filmmaker Joanna Arnow. Through a kaleidoscopic parade of poor decisions we explore her sex life and and the state of modern dating as she documents her yearlong relationship with a racially charged poet-provocateur boyfriend. What starts out as an uncomfortably intimate portrait of a dysfunctional relationship and protracted mid-twenties adolescence quickly turns into a complex commentary on the convergence between our lives and our narratives. If you like Lena Dunham’s HBO show GIRLS, you’ll quickly fall in love with the real life version.

A lot of documentary filmmakers think they are interesting subjects, confidently turning the lens on themselves. Joanna Arnow challenges that paradigm. Seemingly insecure to the point of self-loathing, she perpetually puts herself in a position of pain and judgment before the camera. But Arnow also uses the camera as a tool to uncover truths about herself, and in her self-depiction challenges our notions about relationships.

The filmmaker here documents her first relationship through the reactions of those around her: her parents, who are blunt yet loving; her friends, disembodied voices on the phone, adamantly giving advice; the editor of her film, a pushy, nude Freud with a ‘fro; and the film’s co-antagonist, Arnow’s boyfriend, a “performance artist” out to offend, drinking heavily and hovering just above derelict. Through her associates’ viewpoints, she reveals a raw and honest portrait of twenty-something Brooklyn malaise and the pathos that fuels it.

Arnow’s debut feature voices a self-depiction that is shockingly candid, compared to the banal over-sharing of most social media personal documentation, or to the carefully-crafted faux openness of celebrities. With a defiant spirit she artfully compiles her experiences into a journey down the winding paths she is forging within the rickety world around her.
-Chris Metzler


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