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LOVE AND TERROR ON THE HOWLING PLAINS OF NOWHERE (#HotDocs14 Review)

Hot Docs 2014
 
LOVE AND TERROR ON THE HOWLING PLAINS OF NOWHERE

Directed by Dave Jannetta

One can’t help but think of the hit series, Twin Peaks when looking into Dave Jannetta’s investigative documentary, LOVE AND TERROR ON THE HOWLIN PLAINS OF NOWHERE. Like David Lynch’s series, it too focuses on a strange town and the gruesome discovery of a resident’s corpse. Only this isn’t fiction.

In 2006, gifted Math professor, Steven Haataja, disappeared after leaving his college in the small town of Chadron, Nebraska. Three months later, his body was found tied to a tree, where he had been burned alive. Don’t let the gruesome circumstances turn you off though, it can actually be a very funny film despite them.

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The film is based on Chadron resident, Poe Ballantine’s memoir of the same name. Ballantine leads us through the town, whilst trying to solve the mystery of the possibly murdered math professor. Like Ballantine’s memoir, so as not to be too dark, the film focuses not only on Haataja’s death, but also the bizarre little town where he disappeared. Chadron residents share their acquaintances with Haataja, and also their ideas as to what really happened to him. The humor is found in the personalities and stories of the townspeople, all of whom are very strongly opinionated, and entertaining enough to lead a film of their own.

The stories on display in Jannetta’s film are so rich and engrossing, that viewers may forget that they are watching a documentary, and not a something scripted.

4 sheep

#HotDocs14 Screenings

04.28, 9:45 PM, Hart House Theatre

04.29, 4:15 PM, Scotiabank Theatre

05.02, 8:45 PM, Scotiabank Theatre

Click here for tickets.

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