Black Biscuit (2012)
“Featuring Enfant Terrible Street Superstars”
This is not so much a title as a claim from director-producer Fabrizio Federico. Yes, there is a cast of dozens in Black Biscuit, street people all, and the disenfranchised, and those just slightly round the bend, and some who appear perfectly normal? But it’s hard to work out what Federico wants us to take away from this ambitious two-hour feature length cell phone videography. We are told that:
“The films [sic] message is about being stuck at the crossroads in life and hanging out with the devil. With a narrative pushed along by dialogue from notorious cult leaders and nursery rhymes. I wanted to create a bizarre contrast in feel, and put strange euphoria and libertine counter-culture’s together.”
There is a very thin narrative running through the film but the thread is lost because there is simply too much of everything going on all at once: too many textures, too many snatches of sound that don’t linger long enough to establish themselves, as is the case with so many of the shots. Add to this that there is no resolution, or, better to say: so little of the many ideas introduced are never resolved that what we arrive at is a pastiche of tattered sound bites over tortured images of, well, everything from street raves, to sidewalk impromptu action and interview, parties, playtime, and no introductions, just people and places that landed in front of the lens—all of which is purported to be intentional.
The extremely loose—I hesitate to call it a narrative, better call it a through line—centers around a young unemployed man (Federico) who explores the possibility of being a male escort because any legitimate line of work to which he might apply requires references that he does not have, and so, the catch 22 is set up: one cannot get a job without references and one cannot get references without a job. Or, at least that is the rationale as expressed to the “Greek Pimp” (Paolo Iarlori). These scenes are as bizarre and disturbing as they are out of place. Even though they are supposed to under pin the action to that point, they seem cut out of sequence, and so, in a film packed with visual non sequiturs these scenes become yet more non sequitur when they might have made quite a potent film in-and-of themselves, so fantastic and spontaneous are the antics of Iarlori, but this too is dropped, never to be made reference of again. And like this, so many moments in Black Biscuit that seem to engage to a purpose never achieve any lift, they simply end, leaving the viewer stranded thinking ‘well, that was random.’
But let me be completely clear: anyone who seeks to make a film of any kind and actually succeeds—no matter what opinions one may have regarding the effort—attention must be paid along with compliments for due diligence. Making film is a process of learning film, and half the battle of learning film is getting something ‘in the can’. So the message here is keep trying. The problems one encounters with Black Biscuit are no more dire than those found in any first effort: there is little or no discernable structure, and a tremendous amount of needless footage. A vigorous re-editing of what is already here might yield three interesting short films: provided each scene does not, as they do now, proceed past their natural apogee, or to put it simply, cut past the high point. But all of this is anathema to the young man who calls himself “the director responsible for the gutter film movement”… I don’t think so…
However, Black Biscuit was made under what Federico calls the Pink8 Manifesto, yet more punk hype, which, in a nutshell, thumbs its nose at convention and such stifling repositories as film school, which is precisely what’s wrong with it. And there is far more wrong with it than is right with it.
Regardless of academic concerns and considerations there are some truly startling and unique scenes in Black Biscuit; see it. Love it, hate it, learn from it. On YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImoHm4gS4RU
Actor, writer and director, Robert Kenneth Dator, worked in feature film and television in the United States and Australia. Bob is at work on The Camera as Entity; teaches Film Literacy, Literature and Drama at Oak Ridge Military Academy. He lives and writes in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he attends graduate school.
Black Biscuit (2012)
Director Fabrizio Federico
Runtime 127 minutes
Produced by Fabrizio Federico
Sound Mix: Stereo