Red, White & Wasted @ Tribeca Film Festival

The world premiere of directors Andrei Bowden-Schwartz (first feature film) and Sam B. Jones (first feature film) film Red, White & Wasted must have raised many eyebrows…or didn’t. With all that is going on south of the border, it is rather confusing for us sitting up here in the north. Though we are neighbours, I admit I am quite often befuddled about the behaviour and way of thinking that happens in the United States. Meaning I don’t know if people watching the film will be shocked or even surprised in the least. I was…

Living in Orlando, Florida for Matthew “Video Pat” Burns has always been a particular way of life. A true Southerner. A true redneck. And proud of it. Now middle aged, a single father of two teenage girls, trying to make a living by scrapping, and a devout fan of mudding. What is mudding you ask? Well, it is a “sport” or activity which involves driving huge trucks through swampy mud resulting in it being sprayed in every direction possible. The self proclaimed rednecks who engage in this activity see it as a huge part of their culture and loads of fun.

Trucks are bought and modified. Giant wheels are put on them. All the better to spin and slide on and to kick up tons of mud with. All this brings about the approval and cheers of those watching. The watchers party hard. Drinking, dancing and engaging in other activities.

All this captured the attention in a big way of Matthew Burns. Since he went to see mudding at Swamp Ghost, a place right behind Disney, Matthew was hooked. It became the ultimate form of entertainment for him. He also began to film what went on then sell his videos.

Times are a changing in the area, however. Orlando, mostly because of Disney, is a city which is changing. Land is being built upon. Even in areas which are rather swampy and are where people would gather to engage in mudding. Another big blow to the redneck culture came in the form of a large brush fire which destroyed one of the few remaining mudding areas. Places to go became even more scarce forcing those who wanted to engage in mudding to trespass on land owned by others.

While this worry occupies much of Matthew’s spare time when he is not making money by dumpster diving and selling the scrap metal he finds to pay his bills, he also has to deal with his two teenage daughters who have their own issues in the forms of health worries and boyfriends.

Faced with little other choice, Matthew gives in and finally goes to see a huge mudding event which happens at a place called The Redneck Yacht Club. There along with massive, expensive monster trucks, he finds drinking, loads of skin, fights, and twerking going on. Result is a reevaluation of his life and what he reviously thought to be the truth.

What is great about films and especially documentaries is that they open up the world of people and their lifestyles you are not familiar with. Such was the case with Red, White & Wasted for me. Montreal is not a city in which trucks are part of the culture and I certainly did not know that owners of them would engage in driving them through mud for entertainment. As centrepieces of huge parties.

Then there is the whole way of living and thinking which seems to go hand in hand with this type of mudding lifestyle. Trump-land, for sure. Sexism and racism abound. Ignorance runs rampant. Guns are seen as a necessity. Teenage pregnancy a regular occurance. A total different lifestyle from the one I am used to. What the directors do very well is to not judge their subjects. They just depict the lives they live without mocking them.

For those of you who are tired of your viewing options being limited to films being screened at large cineplexes or another super hero film then a documentary is what you are looking for. Red, White & Wasted entertains (how could you not be?!?) while at the same time educates you about a slice of the population you probably know very little about.

What is wonderful about a film festival like Tribeca is how it affords film fans the opportunity to see films they might not have had the chance to see on big screens. As they were meant to be seen. These are not big Hollywood style films. Does not mean the quality is any lower, though. Films like this one really deserved to be seen and appreciated for what they bring to the table.