East End Film Festival: Follow the Money

Follow the Money
Directed by Steve Boggan, John Hardwick and Ben Unwin
Screening at EEFF June 17th, 2017

by Bernie C Byrnes

Seemingly an act of boisterous lunacy, Follow The Money sees Hackney filmmakers Steve Boggan, John Hardwick and Ben Unwin follow a $10 bill across the USA. Crisscrossing the country over the course of 30 days, and recording their encounters with the people they meet along the way, the filmmakers meet an extraordinary range of characters, from a French trans woman making a new life for herself to the busker who has rediscovered his love for life following a near-death experience.

Although this film claims to be ‘a patchwork portrait of modern America’, the area the $10 covers is limited both geographically and sociologically. Only people prepared to accept being followed by a film crew volunteer to take the bill and inevitably, those who did have their own reasons for doing so.

It would be dangerous to imagine that the people featured in this film are typical Americans. The mistrust of British filmmakers made those that did participate wary and self-conscious or inclined to overshare. The film’s lack of narrative is both the best thing about it and the weakest. There is no judgement or agenda, which I like, but at the same time there is no commonality. A repeated question such as ‘what does this $10 mean to you?’ might have provided a much needed focus. As it is, the experience is akin to standing at a bus stop for several hours and bumming a chat with passers by.

Chances for self-reflection are lacking, as are the opportunities to feature the beauty of the locations. In fact there simply isn’t enough detail for me in anything. I learned very little about anyone involved in this documentary, including the crew who made it (or why).

It was an enjoyable 85 minutes but not one to watch if you’re looking for answers or definite direction. More like La Ronde than Diceman.


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