AIFF 2013: Shephard and Dark

Sometimes the old ways are best. So it goes in “Shephard and Dark”, a documentary featuring the written correspondence of two best friends over the course of several decades. Their friendship and history through letters details two interesting lives, but much more than that, it chronicles history through the common man.

Sam Shephard and Johnny Dark are two very different individuals. Johnny is an introvert, quirky, a hermit, and enjoys the simple things. Sam is a playwright, an analyst, always moving, and contemplative. However, their similar paternal backgrounds unite them, and their friendship is not diluted by distance.

One day, Sam gets the idea to publish his and Johnny’s archives of letters as a book, as a pseudo-historical text. Here the film makes an interesting turn. Johnny and Sam convene and rediscover their history – the good and the bad – and how it has affected the later stages of their life. With their written texts, they read books about their own lives, connecting dots that they had never realized before. The impact of this experience causes a profound new look upon their relationship.

The film largely deals with themes such as life and death, relationships, the passage of time, and fate. Despite having a hearty dosage of humor, “Shephard and Dark” approaches uncomfortable realities that will leave the audience pondering their own relationships and friends gone by.

The accompanying short for this film, “Flo” revealed the work of a disabled New York street photographer with an unstoppable love for photography, despite her crippling handicaps. If nothing else, it is certainly a new perspective and lifestyle for every audience member to dwell on.

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