Heartland Film Festival 2015: Movie Review – Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (2015)

Raiders!

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  • Documentary Feature / USA
  • Directors: Jeremy Coon, Tim Skousen
  • Featured Subjects: Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala, Jayson Lamb, Angela Rodriguez

This review is part of my coverage of 2015’s Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis. Click here for more of my coverage of the festival. You can find my coverage of other Indianapolis area film and TV events here.

Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made tells the story of three kids in 1982 who set out to create a shot for shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark in Mississippi. The project lasted seven years and all that was left to film was one crucial scene. Now over thirty years later, the men have reunited to complete their remake of Steven Spielberg’s iconic movie.

The documentary spends equal time between the present day struggle to complete the movie and the story of the project in the ’80s. Seeing footage of the project intercut with the men speaking about the experience with the benefit of thirty years of hindsight produces hysterical moments steeped in earnestness. The film successfully carries the intense and genuine feeling of opening a time capsule and gives the viewer the opportunity to be in on the nostalgia it holds.

Raiders! is far more than a time capsule, though. In exploring why Raiders of the Lost Ark had such a hold on the men when they were kids, the film finds deep emotional resonance and stumbles into some of the dark histories of its subjects. The depth in this deconstruction of the kid’s creativity deeply invests the viewer in their story and their struggle to finish the film.

Having the context for why the men worked on the film as kids adds weight to the present day drama that plays out in getting the final scene shot. There’s a recurring bit of tension involving the director taking time off from his day job that plays out over the course of the documentary. The threat of the director losing his job and livelihood looms over the course of the shoot as road blocks force them to adjust their schedule.

By the end of Raiders!, the viewer comes away with a heartwarming celebration of youthful creativity and the resilience of adults who didn’t want their dream to die. The documentary is surprisingly poignant when it comes to what films and filmmaking means to the people who love it. Raiders! is a touching look at the creative process and the passion that goes into creating (or recreating) something representative of who you are as a person.

Obsessive Grade – 9.0/10

Raiders! Heartland 2015 Screenings:

Tuesday, Oct. 20th – 8pmWheeler Arts Community
Wednesday, Oct. 21st – 3pmCastleton Square
Saturday, Oct. 24th – 7:30pmTraders Point

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