The Boy Who Flies 

2:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 4, Ivywild School; 11:45 a.m., Saturday, Oct., 5, Cottonwood Center for the Arts

This Canadian film had the possibility to capture the limitless beauty of Malawi, Africa and the inspiring dreams of native Godfrey Massauli. But instead, it's just the latest self-servicing documentary into which an uninteresting documentarian inserts himself, forcing any emotional power that's built up to be lost when the point of view shifts. Call it Morgan Spurlock Syndrome.

Director Benjamin Jordan is a Canadian hipster who, after paragliding across his country, laments that he is feelin' blue, lacking anything else for which to look forward. Before you can say "white-people problems," in a rather stilted intro he claims to have had a dream of teaching African children to make kites out of garbage. Additionally, he meets Massauli, with whom he fantasizes flying through Africa's skies.

The two embark on an adventure to bicycle across Malawi in search of the perfect mountain from which to paraglide. The journey, however, starts to get mildly insulting when Jordan takes offense to the Africans noticing he's white. Instead of checking his privilege, he self-centeredly dwells on how people in Canada consider him "weird," to which he sums up his newfound knowledge of what it's like to truly be a minority: "Yep, I am weird!" And then he flies a kite.

The true heart of the story lies completely with Massauli, the African youth who can barely afford to buy food, who has dreams to fly like his uncle (one of the first black men in his country to fly airplanes), and who spends far too much time lamenting that Jordan will no longer find him interesting if he finds out his uncle was a successful businessman. It's sad that the film hinges on this, because the real drama lies in learning to paraglide.

The film is also padded out with too much filler for the 45-minute running time: lots of over-long shots of bicycling and swimming that try desperately to add some sort of forced meaning. If The Boy Who Flies had a truly honest focus and were only about Massauli and his journey, it would be masterful and powerful. But instead, Jordan seems more concerned with making himself a star, turning Massauli into nothing more than just a "faithful flower" and a prop.

Independent Film Festival

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