ND/NF 2015: Fort Buchanan
The purpose of the New Directors/New Films festival is to profile exciting new works by emerging talent across the world, a perfect description for Benjamin Crotty’s Fort Buchanan. Crotty, an American artist based in Paris, crafts a film that’s the sign of something fresh and distinct. Taking place on a French army base, Fort Buchanan follows Roger (Andy Gillet) as he stays behind while his soldier husband Frank (David Baiot) goes to work in Djibouti. Roger has little to do at the fort, aside from interacting with his abusive teenage daughter Roxy and the army wives waiting for their husbands to return.
In just over an hour, Crotty creates his own bizarre little world with Fort Buchanan. The fort itself is an area of sexual frustration, with the women eager to sleep with anyone they can find on the fort (including each other). Crotty also imbues his film with an off-kilter tone and sense of humour defying almost all conventions. There’s a sense of complete sincerity for every character, but Crotty regularly veers off into the realm of slapstick and surrealism. It’s a strange clash that feels like a direct mash-up between French arthouse and American indie.
Crotty’s balancing act doesn’t always work out in his favour, like when he tries shifting the narrative to a new character in the final act. But when it does work the results are hilarious and truly singular, a mishmash of styles and genres that work effortlessly. Fort Buchanan is the kind of debut that should get people excited; it’s original, strange, flawed, and brimming with potential. Most films have a hard time being this entertaining in two hours; Crotty does that and more in less than 65 minutes.