SXSW 2011 Film Reviews

Better This World

Documentary Feature Competition
D: Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega; with Bradley Crowder, David McKay, Brandon Darby, Diana Welch

Chronicle readers will know Diana Welch’s 2009 story, “The Informant,” the tale of two young men from Texas – Bradley Crowder and David McKay – convicted on federal charges of possessing firebombs during the 2008 St. Paul Republican National Convention. Better This World (the phrase is that of FBI informant Brandon Darby) dramatically completes the narrative of Crowder and McKay, who acted recklessly but who were certainly escorted to that end by Darby as a classic agent provocateur. Sympathetic but frank about Crowder and McKay, the film also complicates the strange figure of Darby, a character out of Joseph Conrad: rebel, seducer, betrayer, lost soul. The film reflects extraordinary access, and surprisingly to normally secretive prosecutors and FBI agents (who almost certainly suppressed exculpatory evidence). The result is both a compelling news documentary and a stunning character study of young activists in a chaotic political time.

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