The Austin Chronicle

Pick of the Litter: 'Nothing So Strange'

Recommended at SXSW Film 2002

March 8, 2002, Screens

True or False?: 'Nothing So Strange'

Filmmaker Brian Flemming first popped into my consciousness during the winter of 1997, when I was judging films for Slamdance, the upstart film festival organized in response to Sundance. Flemming had just instigated Slumdance -- a friendly alternative to the alternative -- right across the street. As much an overall concept as a film festival (the space was like an underground fallout shelter for the sprocketed homeless, complete with soup kitchen and graffitied walls), Flemming's brainchild won raves for its originality, humor, and added showcase opportunities.

Since then, I've noticed Flemming's name attached to some unusual segments produced for IFC's Split Screen TV show hosted by John Pierson, and listed as one of the co-writers of last year's off-Broadway show Bat Boy: The Musical. Clearly, the guy has a special feel for the odd and unusual, which extends to urban myths, pop-culture spoofs, and the tenuous boundaries between fact and fiction.

Now, Flemming comes to South by Southwest with his new movie Nothing So Strange, which documents the aftermath of the assassination of Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates on December 2, 1999. (No, you haven't missed any news bulletins.) Set in the present day, the movie's focus is not on the tragedy of the fictional assassination, but on the mystery that surrounds the full disclosure of the facts of the event. Many citizens smell a cover-up hidden in the official police version of a disgruntled lone assassin. A group called the Citizens for Truth demands an independent investigation but, like most coalitions of conspiracy theorists, splinters into warring sub-factions.

The goal while shooting this documentary-like fiction was "100% veracity," according to Flemming. The result is a genre-bending experience that lives up to Daniel Webster's quote: "There is nothing so powerful as truth, and often nothing so strange."

Nothing So Strange screens at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown on March 8, 7:15pm; March 14, 3:30pm; and March 16, 2:15pm.

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