Review
The Films of Michael Sporn, Vols. 1 & 2
Review by Emru Townsend · February 6, 2004 | Listening to the audio commentary and watching the making-of documentaries on volumes 1 and 2 of The Films of Michael Sporn, it occurred to me that Sporn himself is like his films: low-key, yet engaging.

Volume 1's films experiment with documentary: Whitewash (1994) is an interpretation of a real incident in which a street gang spray-painted a black girl's face white, while Champagne (1997) animates the life story of a real girl named Champagne as she explains her life before, during and after her mother's incarceration for murder. Volume 2 is more fantastic: The Talking Eggs (1992) is an urban retelling of a Creole folk tale, while The Hunting of the Snark (1989) is a condensed version of Lewis Carroll's poem.

Aimed as they are at a younger crowd under the auspices of public television, the first three films are a touch didactic. But there are some nuanced touches, most notably in Whitewash. While the film necessarily focuses on the girl and her classmates' reaction to the incident, a fair amount of time is spent on the older brother's varying expressions of the guilt he feels over his inability to protect her.

The Films of Michael Sporn Vol. 1
First Run Features, 2003
Directed by Michael Sporn
57 minutes

The Films of Michael Sporn Vol. 2
First Run Features, 2003
Directed by Michael Sporn
68 minutes

Shop for Michael Sporn DVDs and more:
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Throughout his commentaries, Sporn muses on how current digital technologies would have made certain tasks easier. At the same time, he also acknowledges that the films would also look and feel very different. In a sense, I'm glad he didn't have access to today's technology. His use of inks, coloured pencil, marker and other complement the loose, slightly rubbery style of his characters—especially in The Hunting of the Snark, the most personal and freewheeling of the films. Sporn may work in lo-fi, but his stories and characters come through loud and clear.

What's Good: Films that parents can actually watch with their children.

What's Bad: Sporn is a bit too modest. A small independent studio gets Ruby Dee, Danny Glover, and James Earl Jones as actors and narrators? How'd he pull that off?

DVD Features: Audio commentary by Sporn, making-of featurettes, animation galleries.
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