ponedjeljak, 17. veljače 2014.

Nik Fackler - Sick Birds Die Easy (2014)

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Icky Blossoms' Nik Fackler on Making 'Sick Birds Die Easy' With Psychedelic Plant (Video)

The frontman was offered $100,000 to give a group people he knew in Africa a camera to capture the "myth" of Iboga, a plant said to have the ability to cure drug addiction.

Nik Fackler's 2008 debut film, Lovely, Still, earned the filmmaker and musician an Independent Spirit Award nomination and the opportunity to work with actors like Ellen Burstyn and Martin Landau. But when it came time for Fackler's follow-up project, he elected to eschew the narrative feature and immerse himself in an entirely new genre. Fackler, who also plays guitar in Omaha rock band Icky Blossoms, embarked on an experimental project in 2011 called Sick Birds Die Easy, which will receive its release this month.
Fackler was approached by Steve Hays, a producer who wanted to make a film in Africa. Hays offered Fackler $100,000 and creative control on the project. His idea was to take a group of interesting people he knew to Gabon and give everyone a camera, all under the concept of experiencing Iboga, a psychedelic plant said to have the ability to cure drug addiction.
"I wanted to test myself as a filmmaker with my intuition," Fackler tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Try to make a film intuitively. To make the film as we go. And then since everyone is playing themselves, I could take the footage that is real documentary footage and mix it with the footage that is set up. Just mix it all together. Some, it's real, and some, it's not real."
Fackler returned from Africa with over 500 hours of footage and spent nearly two years editing it. Between editing sessions, he recorded Icky Blossoms' self-titled debut album with producer Dave Sitek for indie label Saddle Creek and embarked on several tours with the band. On one tour, Fackler played two sets a night, one in Icky Blossoms and one as a hired gun for headliner Tilly and the Wall. Meanwhile, he was trying to make sense of what happened – and what didn't happen – in Africa.
"To be honest with you, it was the worst experience of my entire life," Fackler says. "It was horrible [in Gabon]. Everyone got malaria, people got really mad and there were fights. I was trying to keep control of this thing and remember 'This is what I asked for. I wanted to do some kind of chaotic, intuitive thing, and it's horrible.' It was a labor of love. And in the end I'm really proud of it. You never talk about how much it sucked once it's done."
The filmmaker sees the finished product as a "myth," somewhere between documentary and narrative. It was largely created like a documentary, although many aspects veer from the truth, and parts were scripted and acted out. Fackler and his companions did take Iboga while in Gabon, and he hopes the film can raise awareness about the plant, which has been studied as a cure for drug addiction.
One of the people Fackler brought along was musician Sam Martin, who plays in Omaha group Capgun Coup. Martin created the music for the film, something Fackler says helped his lengthy editing process.
"I see music visually and all the music Sam had written was very visual and very cinematic," Fackler says. "It created this heroin, Velvet Underground vibe. So when I got back from Africa and started editing the film, every scene I would pick a piece of Sam's music and put it in. In a way, Sam's music really designed a lot of the film. Because I came from a music video background, I've always been very visual with music. It came together very naturally."
Sick Birds Die Easy was released on VOD and digital marketers on Feb. 11, and will be available on DVD on Feb. 18. The DVD features what Fackler calls a "tripped out" version of the audio commentary track. The filmmaker is touring with the film to several cities for premiere events, but says he's looking forward to focusing on music next. Icky Blossoms will record their sophomore album with producer Mike Mogis at the end of March and are hoping for a summer release.
"I'm a filmmaker at heart," Fackler says. "I never intended to be a musician; it just fell into my lap. I love it. Playing music is the most fun thing to do in the world, but I feel like film is always calling. I feel safe because of that. No matter how old I get or where I get in my career, film will always be calling me. Right now, I'm focusing on music because it's filling me with joy."
- www.hollywoodreporter.com/

Sick Birds Die Easy, A 2013 Film About Friendship, Drugs, Art And Iboga

A documentary crew of artists and misfits travel to Gabon, Africa, the believed origin of the Garden of Eden and home to one of the most powerful psychotropic plants on Earth. The sophmore film by American writer/director Nik Fackler takes audiences on the ultimate trip through the eyes of drug addicts, musicians and (Bwiti) shamans. All of them, searching for the answers through different means and mediums.
Sounds like a good idea.

“Mockumentary” “Horror Doc” “Cultural Tourism” Combined

Back when Mr Fakler was researching the project he contacted IbogaLife founders. After all, we’d been to Gabon and done a lot of groundwork he could take advantage of. We were initiated at the village Ebando and maintain a close relationship. He told us he was making a documentary but he was financially backed to make a horror film. He told us he was bringing a movie crew, actors and thousands of dollars worth of equipment to our little village Ebando. We said
Sounds like a good idea.

Sick Birds Die Easy Making The Festivals Circuit

Mr Fackler’s end product is delighting crowds at international film festivals. The misfit characters of the film are actually a good match for the background characters at Ebando. We expected the unstoppable chief Tatayo, the wise adept Yann and the ngangas of Ebando (especially Mbilou and Etudia) to steal the show. We know them as charismatic talented spiritualists worthy of their own hour and a half doc.
But Mr Fackler’s devotion to his narrative and the camera’s intense in-your-face exposure of his subjects pulls the film into its own. While we might have been hopeful for a straight-up exposure of our Bwiti lineage and village, we’re given a glimpse, and an almost cohesive glimpse, into the artistic survival process in general. Art in order to live.

Sick Birds Die Easy And Iboga’s Efficacy

Sick Birds Die Easy‘s ostensible story line involves the iboga initiations of Ross and Sam. Both have substance abuse problems. Ross is more willing to face his issues, and by the time the initiation is arranged Sam opts out of ‘laying on the mat’ (getting initiated).
Ross does lay on the mat, but apparently disappoints the Ebando initiators by getting up and leaving his ceremony in the middle of it (as if that would stop the process!). In the end, his healing is acknowleged in the voice over, which states Ross successfully interrupted his opiate dependency during his shunted initiation.

Stunning Footage, Great Study Of Tatayo (Hugues Poitevin)

As a visual distraction, Sick Birds Die Easy is pure delight. Having seen (and taken) a lot of footage in Ebando and Gabon, we know it is rare to have cinematography this rich. As for the portrayal of village chief and iboga initiator Tatayo, the job of balancing his personality and expressing his charisma is well done. He comes off as the well-spoken, widely respected, astonishingly gentle, holy prankster that we know him to be.

Trivial, Irreverent And Entertaining: Is SBDE Also Disrespectful?

We get it. We come from the same culture and privilege as Mr Fakler, after all. But we’re also devotees to iboga, Bwiti and Ebando. So the exposure of our community and its personalities scares us a little. More unease is provided by the (youthful) inclusion of iboga with the other drugs Mr Fakler and his crew are consuming (LSD, cannabis, oxys). Bwitists will be offended by the way iboga is perhaps just another drug for these Americans to abuse.
But Gabon’s a long way to go just to be condescending to a group of people and their sacrament. We know that Mr Fackler is an artist with his own art to make. Any offense to Bwiti was strictly unintended.
And we hope fellow Bwitists will not be hurt that Bwiti and iboga are the background color for SBDE, not the subject. Any resemblence to the true austerity and powers of Bwiti are strictly unintended. - ibogalife.com/sick-birds-die-easy/
Oh, the midnight crowd at Hot Docs is going to love this one! Sick Birds Die Easy might be in the running for the gonzo prize of the festival. This fucked-up documentary by Nicholas Fakler, whose previous film is the geriatric love story Lovely, Still, is a feverish acid trip through the lunatic fringe. Fakler embarks on a wild adventure to the jungle of Gabon, Africa in search of an herbal remedy for drug addiction. The plant, iboga, is said to cure dependency. An expert in the film’s preamble notes that it can cure cravings for heroin with a single dose. Iboga, the expert also notes, is a hallucinogenic drug itself. To little surprise, the side effects of iboga make it illegal in America. Fakler therefore assembles his drug-addled friends to make a trip to Africa and sample the drug. A colourful (very colourful) cast of characters crosses the ocean and embarks on a trek through the dense jungle. The rehab journey of Sick Birds Die Easy is indescribably weird. Whether it’s the effect of the Bwiti mysticism in the land or the influence of the non-stop flow of pot, acid, and OxyContin (I suspect it’s the latter), the friends’ journey seems like something that Hunter S. Thompson could only imagine in a fever dream. Especially strange—and most in need of the healing journey—is Fakler’s friend Ross, whom Fakler describes as a character “lost in the Garden of Eden with the Devil and God.” The opening credits also introduce Ross's occupation as "paranoid drug addict". The citation is appropriate, since Ross’s most lucid moments offer acid-tinged tangents—if not polemics—that provide un-pc conspiracy theories about 9/11, Israel, and extraterrestrial veggies. Thanks to Ross, Sick Birds Die Easy is unscripted gold. This character driven story is a wild adventure. Fakler et al take the strange premise to uninhibited extremes and show the audience the fringes of both addiction and recovery. The drug-induced trip down the rabbit hole is made even more fantastical by some trippy visuals and existential musing. The animated “stoned ape theory” sequence should do for Sick Birds what “Everytime” did for Spring Breakers. One could see Sick Birds much like the Harmony Korine film and take it all as an hour-and-a-half of first world problems run amok. It’s easy to see how a viewer might be repulsed by the friends’ ignorant appropriation of foreign culture or by one crewmember’s intoxicated rant against capitalism that ends with him burning a wad of money in front of their African tour guides. Murphy’s Law follows the friends all the way to the jungle, though, as their stickiest situation occurs when they wake up to find one of their jungle guides lying dead and cold on the ground. How many American tourists does it take to kill a travel guide? Sick Birds Die Easy is one of those documentaries, like last year’s Despite the Gods, that gets better and better as the subjects find themselves further off course. “This isn’t the film I intended to make, but I enjoyed it just as much,” Nicholas observes in voiceover. Sick Birds Die Easy becomes less about the quest for iboga and more about the effects that drugs and addiction have over one’s body and mind, and, more seriously, one’s relationships. The group tests the limits of their friendship by seeing how many pilfered dubies or close-ups are too much. It would be far too easy simply to write off Sick Birds Die Easy due to the misadventures of the group. Fakler isn’t afraid to depict his friends with a critical eye. (See, for example, a scene in which Ross demonstrates the health benefits of hydrating and washing with his own urine.) Portraying the quest for the iboga plant as something akin to “humanity’s apocalypse,” Sick Birds Die Easy is fully aware that the actions of the guerrilla-druggie filmmakers create some appalling shit. Even the film’s final dabble in the Bwiti rituals underscores how much the Americans miss the point of the foreign remedies. Tatyo, a Frenchman living in Gabon whom Fakler describes as “like a clown on acid” (there’s a pet name for everyone), shakes his head at Ross’s attempt to cure himself with the potency of the iboga. Tatyo decriesRoss as a typical Westerner who misses the symbolical elements of the healing process. This Lord of the Flies adventure ends with a rude awakening for the West. Much like Piggy’s conch, the druggy vibe that gives the friends power doesn’t last forever. Even in the search for sobriety, they make plans to consume a baggie’s worth of acid. By the end, though, the consequences of their self-destructive lifestyle seem clear after a few foolish days of trouncing about in the mud. Sick Birds Die Easy, for all its bizarre self-indulgence and white privilege run amok, is an insanely entertaining head-trip. It also makes a pretty good case to introduce the iboga plant to the West, if only to prevent future assaults by drugged-out tourists who get lost in the jungle whilst playing Blair Witch. If there was ever a film to capture what happens to your brain on drugs, I suspect this is it. - www.cinemablographer.com/

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