Director: Rene Daalder
Year Released: 2007
Dutch director Daalder - best known for his cult oddity Massacre at Central High - is compelled to make a documentary about the brief, weird life of fellow countryman Bas Jan Ader, an artist whose last performance piece, an attempt to sail a miniscule boat from America to Holland, led to him disappearing at sea. Ader was so elusive that some of the people interviewed here have trouble remembering him, making this a real challenge to start with, and it's not like Daalder's ugly effects, scattered approach to his subject or rambling voice-over help either: he's trying to preserve the memory of someone whose artistic goal was to more or less vanish (compare/contrast with Ray Johnson's "suicide," documented in How to Draw a Bunny). The remaining work by Ader - including films, photographs and installations - is worth exploring, however, and his performances that involve 'falling' are particularly curious and enigmatic: yes, they are about gravity, but they are also about - as one of the interviewees points out - the need to let go and permit life to do what life does best (gravity, as a certain Thom Yorke once said, always wins).