Fantastic Fest 2014 Review/Interview: KUNG FU ELLIOT

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

From Canada, this often hilarious, yet sometimes unnerving, documentary about a self-proclaimed karate expert turned movie director tells an entertaining, but truly bizarre story.  Elliot Scott lives to make action movies in Nova Scotia.  He, his girlfriend Linda, and an assortment of friends and collaborators have already produced a couple of feature films.  During the course of the documentary they are in the process of filming Blood Fight, a film they hope is Elliot’s action masterpiece.  Directors Matthew Bauckman,  Jaret Belliveau and their crew follow Elliot as he attempts to finish his movie, pursue a career in Chinese medicine, and tell his story of how he became the man he is today.  As Elliot allows Belliveau to examine his life, relationships and career, his claims of karate expertise and film festival success are proven false.  It becomes quite clear that Elliot is living in a dream world of his own creation as he pursues the career of his dreams.

This film won the Documentary Best Picture Award at Fantastic Fest and certainly deserves it.  Of the documentaries I watched at the festival, this one definitely is the most fascinating glimpse of real people pursuing their passions in life.  They may be quite eccentric, but their tenacity is undeniable.  For sure Elliot Scott takes eccentricity to a whole new level.  In his pursuit of his dreams, he probably has accomplished more than some people have. However, he often greatly embellishes with some outlandish claims to make up for what he hasn’t accomplished.  The film starts off quite amusingly and creeps into slightly darker territory as Bauckman and Belliveau reveal the truth.  Still, the directors never use their film to ridicule the subjects.  They simply allow them to do what they do in their lives and the comedy that results is completely genuine and natural.  It was with great pleasure that I spoke with Jaret Belliveau and producer David Eberts during Fantastic Fest.

 

Mark Saldana: How was it that you heard about Elliot and decided to make this documentary?

Jaret Belliveau: It started with a newspaper article in our local newspaper back in Moncton.  The other director, Matthew, was going to Toronto Film School at the time and his father sent him the news clipping which was about Elliot’s first film, They Killed My Cat.  Several years later Matthew and I talked about doing a movie and we wanted to do something around the east coast of Canada.  He remembered Elliot Scott.  We saw his trailer for They Killed My Cat and were intrigued.  So we went out and got his movie, watched it, and thought, this was amazing! This guy’s from around here and he’s unbelievable. He’s won these film festivals and he’s a karate expert.  We contacted him on Facebook and that was the start of our two year adventure with him.  The reason that Matt and I decided to make the film was that it was not just about Elliot.  It was the love story with Linda and the other people around him.  They’re what made this film possible.  Elliot was really just the starting point for us.  I was interested in how his relationship with the others was going to develop because he is so disconnected from our reality.

M.S.: What kind of footage can be found in any outtakes you cut from the film? Anything really crazy or outlandish?

J.B.: Everything Elliot told us we had to start questioning, especially in the editing room.  There are tons of other stories we just couldn’t include in the movie.

Dave Eberts: He claims he got a distribution deal with Warner Bros, with one company called Chemical Burn.  They were number 27 in the line of Warner Bros. distributors.

J.B.: Documentaries are about finding truth.  In a world of manipulation, people are trying to fool one another all the time.  We were really fighting that.  It’s (Kung Fu Elliot) like a post-Catfish documentary.

(Regarding some of the negative/skeptical responses from audiences)

J.B.: The story is about Linda & Elliot.  He just happens to be that kind of person.  Can you not make that kind of documentary without seeing some kind of criticism?  It really pulls people because of the way he is brought to light.  People definitely question us.  We feel like this movie is a mirror and it really makes the audience look and internalize.

 

While watching the film, I never got the impression that Matthew Bauckman and Jaret Belliveau ever intended any ill will or wished to ridicule the people in their film.  After speaking with Belliveau and Eberts, this confirmed my initial impression.  The film is made with much heart and love for the people in it, and because this film would not have been made without them, the filmmakers have continued to help and support Elliot in his endeavors.  Belliveau mentioned that he has helped Elliot cut trailers for his movies and plans to continue to help him in any way he can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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