Frame 394

Hot Docs 2016: Frame 394 Review

Shorts

Frame 394 follows Daniel Voshart, a man who like many others, saw the video of the Walter Scott shooting by police officer Michael Slager that was posted online. Unlike most viewers, Daniel reconstructed the scene digitally, analyzed it and noticed something in the footage that had the potential to affect the outcome of the case.

There are some fascinating aspects to Frame 394 but it ultimately falls short of adding anything productive to the already over saturated conversation. So much time is dedicated to Daniel’s story and his quest for the truth that it fails to delve into more pertinent issues. For example, after Daniel posts on Reddit about the potential that the cop may be innocent in the court of law, he is disappointed more people didn’t upvote it online and suggests that people are more interested in a particular narrative then the “truth”. 

Ultimately, the film spends too much time on Daniel’s thoughts and emotions, most of which come off as cold and overly clinical. Frame 394, though shot well, is disjointed and by the end it’s unclear what the film’s message is and how much of an impact frame 394 had on the case. Frame 394 is set up like a classic crime documentary and strives to be a Thin Blue Line for the digital age, but Daniel’s place in the case is tertiary at best. Much of it too superficial, especially for such a pervasive and current historical moment. While Daniel’s findings might be compelling, it would be helpful to have them situated within a larger context and given more meaning.

The highlight of the film is the latter half, where the audience hears from people who are more directly affected by systemic racism and by the Walter Scott case. Their words are powerful, to be sure, but in context of the film, they make the first portion and Daniel for that matter, seem irrelevant. While I do think people like Daniel have a place in the conversation, I’m not sure it warrants a documentary dedicated to his journey as a relative outsider who happens to have access to top of the line computer software and is afforded the distance of objectivity.

Tuesday May 3, 6:30pm Isabel Bader Theatre (Screening with Do Not Resist)

Thursday May 5, 7:00pm Hart House Theatre (Screening with Do Not Resist)

Saturday May 7, 6:30pm, Isabel Bader Theatre (Screening with Do Not Resist)

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