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BERLINALE 2009 Panorama / UK

Murphy's White Lightnin' a "transcendental" debut

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Murphy's White Lightnin' a "transcendental" debut

Dominic Murphy’s directorial debut White Lightnin’ [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
screened to a full house yesterday at the Berlinale. The Panorama sidebar title played last month as a Midnight Screening at the Sundance Film Festival.

Produced by the UK’s Film & Music Entertainment, the film tells the "not entirely true" story of American “dancing outlaw” Jesco White, previously explored in Jacob Young’s 1991 documentary The Dancing Outlaw.

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White was born in a small rural community in the Appalachian Mountains, where his childhood — marked by drug addiction and frequent detentions in reformatories — was shaped by his stern and protective father, D Ray White, a famous dancer of the local folk style called mountain dancing.

As a young man, dance was a form of personal freedom for White, who suffers from a personality disorder, until his father’s brutal and senseless murder changed his life forever.

Murphy, who previously worked in advertising, breaks up the narrative in short, self-contained sequences framed by moments of black screen and tinged with a subtle irony that weaves itself into the story, told in a level voice-over. The de-saturated and beautiful sepia tones of the film were captured by DoP Tim Maurice-Jones (Filth and Wisdom [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
).

After the screening, the visibly moved director told audiences: "People have had very different reactions to this film. Some call it superficial, to others it seems transcendental and deep. Whatever your impression, talk about it".

White Lightnin' is being sold by The Salt Company.

(Translated from Italian)

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