WINNER: Best Documentary Feature, Slamdance 2014
Official Selection: Hot Docs 2014
“Incredibly entertaining and ultimately bizarre” – FILM PULSE
“It's FUBAR meets CHEATERS with a little bit of AMERICAN MOVIE, except all of what you’re watching is real” - Whitney Mallett, VICE
“An absolute trip… One of the more complex documentaries made about misguided DIY filmmakers” – Andrew Parker, NOW
Elliot “White Lightning” Scott is absolutely determined to become Canada’s first big-screen action hero. He’s been making micro-budget DIY martial arts action films in a small Nova Scotia town, getting as many neighbours, friends and passersby involved as he can, and roping his significant other, Linda, in for the ride. Elliot is now embarking on what he’s determined will be his breakout production — “Blood Fight” — and he’s not holding back a thing. Lack of trained stuntmen be damned, this film’s going to have fights, fire gags, driving stunts, people going through windows, everything. Elliot feels that he owes it to his fans. He simply can’t let them down. What fans, you might ask? Not a bad question, and if you yourself have not yet heard of Scott or his crazy endeavours, it’s not because your ear hasn’t been pressed tightly enough against the ground. Elliot is a bit of a dreamer, but he certainly gets things done. How well is an entirely other question. At this point, you’re surely thinking that KUNG FU ELLIOT must be Canada’s own AMERICAN MOVIE, or something to that effect. It’s certainly been hailed as that in some circles, and that’s partially accurate. The full reality though is, as with Elliot Scott himself, a good deal darker.
Shot over a period of two years with an extraordinary degree of access and (initial) trust, KUNG FU ELLIOT is a thought-provoking gaze into both the forces of do-or-die creative ambition and the lies people tell themselves. What begins as an endearing “little engine that could” tale of naked determination slowly twists into an upsetting portrait of delusion, deceit and manipulation. At the same time, as we watch all kinds of people going along with Elliot in spite of the very obvious exaggerations of his many claims, the film functions in part as a testament to the power of dreams, and the desire we all have to believe in the people around us. Or to simply believe them. There’s so much here to chew on, we don’t want to spoil anything more. Directors Matthew Bauckman and Jaret Belliveau have made one of the great docs of 2014. It’s a very funny film, to be sure, a profoundly fascinating one too, but do know that it’s every bit as uncomfortable. You won’t be able to look away.
— Mitch Davis