Definitely one of the best films at The LA Film Festival was Branson. When you think of some of the great places to see a live show, where do you think of? Broadway? Hollywood? Vegas? I bet Branson, Missouri isn’t the first thing that pops into your head, but it is quickly becoming THE place for singers, dancers, and performers to strut their stuff on stage.
Director Brent Meeseke, set out to make a documentary about a family who tried to eBay their son, when suddenly everything fell apart and he found himself and a camera crew alone in Branson. Just when he was about to give up, he looked around him and realized his real story was right around him.
When you first start watching this film, you think “this is where all the Vegas D-list goes to make a buck.” The tone is jovial, in fact you may even think you’re watching a satire when you see the tap dancers and performing puppies running across stage, but then you realize that you’re watching a group of people who will literally do whatever it takes to make it. Through Meeske’s subtle shift in tone, suddenly your perspective is changed, and through the cheesiness you feel the need to support all the different “characters” that Meeseke has provided you with.
The true heart of this story comes from the character Jackson Cash, a Johnny Cash impersonator whose life is not unlike the real Johnny Cash’s, only less successful. Between problems with drugs and serious health issues (including being in a comma for a few weeks), Jackson has never given up on his dream of fame and maybe a little fortune. If he has $20 in his pocket he’ll buy some black CDs to sell on the road instead of a sandwich.
These are the true performers, and they are true survivors of the stage.
I’m not one who enjoys documentaries, but this was by far one of the most interesting and thought-provoking pieces of film that I saw some out of the festival.
We will have an interview with the Director of the film and Jackson Cash himself up on the site shortly, so keep an eye out!