Scaredsacred (Velcrow Ripper), 105 minutes. Opens Friday (October 21). For venues and times, see Movies, page 102. Rating: NNNN
Velcrow Ripper 's five-year labour of love is part personal confession and part harrowing documentary chronicle. When both streams work in unison, the result is spectacular. Armed with a digital camera, Ripper visits war- and disaster-ravaged sites in Israel, Bhopal, Hiroshima, Cambodia and elsewhere, probing the aftermath of human loss in search of buoyancy and rectitude. Initially Ripper grapples for focus, framing his personal journey as the primary consideration. What does having his camera stolen, or his shoes for that matter, have to do with unearthing other people's accounts of hope?
But momentum builds rapidly after he integrates his voice with the story, and it makes amends for a less coherent opening. Arriving in New York post-9/11, Ripper reels in the myriad emotions with a veteran's precision. By juxtaposing this sequence with one of young Afghani boys playing in a bombed-out cinema in a country without playgrounds or cultural facilities, Ripper conveys a crafty anti-Bush message that rivals Michael Moore's overt Bush-bashing in Fahrenheit 9/11.
Truly amazing characters emerge, like the Israeli and Palestinian parents who have lost their children yet willingly embrace one another in grief. Indelible images, fluid sound design and practised editing make this inspirational message of human compassion a worthy cinematic viewing.