Films by Bill Draheim
If one man’s trash is another’s treasure, then Bill Draheim’s cinéma vérité work of art is a proverbial war chest of pungent plunder. Equal parts rock’n’roll retrospective, American allegory, and cautionary chill, Trashfest 2000 reveals to us the gorgon’s head of an endangered American subculture. You may wish to avert your eyes, but you will leave knowing that what you have just been made privy to is something too raw and vital to be easily dismissed.
We open to a dark screen. The emcee is warning the crowd of the stomach-churning spectacles to come. Here, in no particular order, is a teaser of some of the tamer moments: a man licking the sweat of another man‘s chest, a supine hippopota-man pumping his pelvis into the smoky air, the double flagellation of our anti-hero, and last (but certainly not least), the camera man himself, not to be upstaged by the mayhem of those he has filmed, kicking over the piss and beer filled wagon that the Reverend rode, pulled by his faithful midget.
And yet all of that is just window dressing for the real story: the disquieting drama as the Reverend free-falls back into alcoholism, pulled and prodded down by the adoring masses. If you sit through the movie sober you can’t help but wonder, as his friends drag the utterly plastered Reverend away, where all his friends are. Or you can just drink a beer, kick back and enjoy the best of bedlam.