In the same week of the Season 2 debut of the acclaimed Showtime drama Yellowjackets, Tontine is being show to theater audiences for the first time in over a decade. A found footage take on a Lord of the Flies-esque devolving of civilized society, Tontine is as fascinating a concept and marketing story as a film itself. When originally released, the “host” and “producer” of the reality show at the center of the film – Rob Mariano, known as “Boston Rob” from several seasons of Survivor and Amazing Race – actually toured for months promoting the show as if it were real. A simple Google search shows that people bought it as a real show and the articles about it as such are fantastic.
The film should be more recognized and known, but sadly it seems to have a very niche audience. However, what better time than now, with a show like Yellowjackets on top of mind, to reintroduce this similarly themed film based on a faux-reality show to the masses.
The presentation of the film as a prepared exhibit for a court trial about the tragedy surrounding the failed television show is a brilliant framing device for found footage. It allows behind the scenes footage from the production meetings and casting interviews to be woven into the footage filmed on location by the “contestants”. This allows the film to flow a bit more naturally than using only one type of found footage. While, in some cases, one single footage source is best, in this case, use of the multiple sources really strengthens the narrative.
Beyond the set up, you don’;t need to know much more. In fact, it’s best to going in with nothing else. This is a Survivor-type reality show that goes wrong. Everything else that you’ll see here is best left to experience yourself. The performances are solid, the use of the first person cameras is fantastic, and the back story is told extremely well. It deserves far more praise and far more eyes on it, so hopefully that’s exactly what this screening does.
Tontine played on Saturday night, but full information can be found at unnamedfootagefestival.com for the rest of the stellar program. Grab your tickets now and get your ass to the 4-Star before it’s too late.