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Unbelievable Truth, The (2003)
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by Scott Weinberg

"The Importance of Being Dispassionate"
4 stars

A few weeks ago I received an email from a filmmaker whose short film had shown at the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival. His name was Jeremy Yaches and his film, The Unbelievable Truth, had played prior to a feature-length film that I'd reviewed. Unfortunately I had been late for the screening and completely missed the short. Devoted producer that he is, Jeremy promptly shipped me a DVD of the film and kindly asked me to tell him what I thought. Then he emailed me three days later asking me again. You just gotta respect grass-roots indie-film tenacity like that...

Clocking in at about 9 minutes, Nathan Caswell's The Unbelievable Truth is a compelling and bittersweet look at how photographers are created. Told through a series of brief flashbacks (each of which have a camera as an integral prop), the film flashes back to the most formative moments in our protagonist's life - and displays how capturing the moment on film often seems more important than the experience itself.

I didn't really know how to give the short a 'traditional' sort of review - as it runs under 10 minutes and is a relatively abstract piece that's defies simple description. After watching the film, I sent Jeremy back an email stating:

"I must say I quite enjoyed it. To me it feels like a visual thesis on how one becomes fascinated in photography/filmmaking. Visually it's quite the calling card, and I can see why audiences have appreciated the film."

After a second visit with the film, I became more aware of the rather bleak and emotionless way in which the main character approaches his photography subjects. When a childhood playmate unwisely sticks a rodent into her mouth, thus pitching her into a state of shock - our guy simply keeps snapping away with his camera. One of the first anecdotes shared in the film is that "my Father filmed my entire birth, not once putting his camera down to comfort my Mother". I'm paraphrasing there, but the point seems somewhat clear: in order to objectively capture a moment on film, perhaps one needs to be completely free of compassion.

I'm glad I could help the filmmakers out with a review, because the film really is quite good. Unfortunately it doesn't seem likely that you'll be able to see it (or any short films for that matter) outside the festival circuit. (The Unbelievable Truth has recently played at the Philadelphia, Tribeca and Atlanta Film Festivals.) But shorts like this are usually created as a springboard to bigger and better things. If that's the case here, I certainly look forward to what these filmmakers have to offer down the road.

For more information on "The Unbelievable Truth" and a few other enjoyably odd shorts ("Baby Eat Baby" is absolutely wild!), have a look over at

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originally posted: 06/15/03 09:30:37
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