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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Twisted: A Balloonamentary (review)

Twist & Shout is “America’s premiere balloon-twisting convention” — not be confused with all those other balloon conventions. Actually, I’m not being snide when I say that I’m guessing there are probably at least dozens of others, because I’m one of those weirdos who goes to science fiction conventions, and I know that most people have no idea that you could attend a different SF con every weekend of the year in the continental United States alone. And as it turns out, this documentary — in which filmmakers Sara Taksler and Naomi Greenfield visit Twist & Shout and talk to a handul of the top balloon artists both at and outside of the convention — pretty much demonstrates that balloon artists are a similar bunch to SF fans: smart, quirky, gregarious, creative, and often a tad odd, but almost always in a pleasant way. (Though the guy who does “Gospel ballooning,” including a Jesus-on-the-cross complete with nails and dripping blood, is somewhat disturbing.) As such, I found this film less surprising than others might: it’s certainly a cheery and friendly look at a little-known subculture, just one that I’m already unexpectedly familiar with. (I even spotted a recent new acquaintance from SF fandom in this movie — it seems she straddles strange subcultures.) Extras include audio commentary by Taksler and Greenfield, a Q&A with the filmmakers at the film’s world premier, an instructional video on how to make a balloon dog, deleted scenes, and more. Purchase of the DVD helps to support public television in the United States.

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watch at home

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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