The Painter and the Thief
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Shot well. Good looking film.
Writer and director, Ben Lawrence originally saw 'Ghosthunter' as a story about grief.
Seeing an advertisement in the paper about a Ghosthunting business, and then finding out Jason King, founder of the Ghosthunting crew, had started the business when he had his eyes opened to the Other side because he saw the apparition of his recently departed brother, sitting on a couch across from him - Ben wondered if Jason was projecting his grief outward.
He organises to meet with Jason, finding a Western-suburb, large-as-life Sydney boy working security, who doesn't like to read, and had only found his recently passed brother in adulthood because he turned up and announced he was his brother. Jason questioned his mother about the existence of this brother, who confirmed that yes, it was true, and for reasons he couldn't fathom, had never told him.
Did they have the same father?
Documentary director Ben was happy to help solve this mystery without realising the story he was about to uncover.
Sourcing hospital records about Jason's medical history, it becomes apparent he had multiple hospital admissions with what was noted as clumsiness. Soon becoming obvious that Jason suffered from chronic abuse.
It was a question of asking Jason, Do you want to continue? Do you want to find this mysterious father?
Denial from his mother about the injuries and any further responsibility or input into the documentary, the research continues over seven years as layers keep being peeled from Jason's past - the gaps in his memory revealed as victims of his father's abuse reach out.
There are so many complicated emotions as this unexpected story unfolds with the interviewing of Jason and his friends, family and other victims. Along with the police involvement tackling the crime, the film turns into a more unsettling reveal of a deeply damaged individual struggling to keep his good heart. We see Jason's ignorance turn to revelation and all the ugly that comes with the knowledge his dad was an abuser.
What crushed me was the fact that after all these years of Jason trying to find his father, then finding out he's a monster, then to fill in those gaps of memory - to see the victims names written on the bricks of an apartment hallway where he used to live but had forgotten until seeing those names - then for his father to say he doesn't remember him, his son. It's devastating.
I went to this particular screening because of the Q&A with director, Ben Lawrence.
When questioned as to how he handled the unfolding of such a confronting story, one where he had no idea where it was headed but doing his best to uncover, give air and still remain safe, I wasn't surprised when Ben answered that he seriously considered taking on the advice of people telling him to pour a circle of salt around his person because that's what you do to keep out the ghosts.
It took courage to keep following Jason as he remembered his father, while walking down those cinder-block hallways as lights flickered into darkness.
Ben followed for seven years.
It picks at me because the story is still unfolding as Jason fights against the damage already done - he keeps saying he just has to move forward... Into what?
It's a documentary that gives insight into a wider range of current mental health and social issues - a one-man tale that makes you really think. Yet remain on-edge because the story hasn't finished.
Not an entertainer but certainly a unique, bizarre and thought-provoking film.
It's an odd film that unwinds in a weird, uneven way - sometimes good, but other times confusing or pedestrian. It feels like after filming the guy for 7 years, they had *some* interesting stuff, but not enough to craft a more thrilling narrative. Also, I hate to be that *that* guy, but I wanted to see more ghosthunting..