This isn't the easiest time to be an indie filmmaker.
For that matter, it's also not the easiest time to open an indie art cinema in a city where your primary competition is the hybrid national chain Landmark Theatres.
But hey, sometimes you've gotta deal with what you've got.
Indy's own pride and joy Kan-Kan Cinema & Brasserie was headed for its grand opening when COVID-19 arrived and disrupted all of our plans. Located in the heart of Windsor Park, Kan-Kan combines the beauty of truly indie cinema (Sorry Landmark, but you sold out!) with the award-winning stand-alone restaurant The Brasserie. Featuring the culinary wizardry of James Beard nominee Abbi Merriss, The Brasserie is the perfect complement to one of Indy's most exciting cinematic efforts in years.
While the official grand opening may be on hold, Kan-Kan is already leaving its cinematic footprints on the Indy movie landscape with a variety of initiatives worthy of support including On-Demand screenings, special virtual events, and refreshingly full-on support of local and Indy native filmmakers.
One such effort was last night's screening of Last Man Fishing, a feature documentary by Indy's own JD Schuyler looking at the vastly changing seafood system through the unique, poignant, and engaging lens of small-scale fishermen across the United States. The film's most engaging stories, perhaps, include New Englander Tim Rider, whose young son adds a spark and light to the film and whose dream of supporting his family as a fisherman is disrupted by numerous challenges. Darius Kasperzak, a jig boat fisherman in Kodiak, Alaska, is similarly engaging as he works to build a solid infrastructure for his struggling small boat fleet. The screening included post-screening virtual appearances by Schuyler, one of the film's fishermen, and Salmon Shares CEO Nic Mink.
Schuyler tells a quietly gripping tale here that casts dispersions on the ethics of the seafood industry and its increasingly devastating impact on small-scale fishing nationwide. Last Man Fishing explores the industrial model of fishing, though its heart is clearly with those indie fishermen whose focus on sustainable fishing emphasizing conservation allow for ethics, community, and commitment to quality.
Last Man Fishing is beautifully narrated by best-selling author Mark Bittman, whose vocals weave themselves into Schuyler's mesmerizing cinematography that captures the magnificence of such locales as New England, Alaska, and Oregon. Last Man Fishing would be worth watching for its imagery alone, but the addition of Bittman's narration and the engaging, informed testimonies provided by the film's subjects makes the film even more remarkable.
In addition to the film's personal stories, Schuyler includes such noteworthy voices as conservationist Carl Safina and author Paul Greenberg in driving home that not only is this is emotionally resonant documentary but it's a well-researched and informed one.
While the indie fest life has been temporarily interrupted for Last Man Fishing, the film has so far been an official selection at New Hampshire Film Festival, BendFilm Festival, and Newbury Port Documentary Film Festival. There's little doubt its success will continue.
This review arrives on the day that my home state of Indiana has entered "stage 4" of re-opening and movie theatres officially have the green light to move cautiously toward opening their doors at 50% with precautions in place. While the traditional cinematic life may be temporarily askew, thanks to the efforts of Indy's new shining light at Kan-Kan Cinema & Brasserie and the wonderful filmmaking behind Last Man Fishing there's no doubt the future remains bright and the indie voice will still be heard whatever it takes.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic