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(The 2017 SXSW Film Festival opened on March 10 and ran until March 18. HtN has you covered and GUARANTEE more coverage than any other site! Check out this review of Flesh and Blood,actor/writer/director Mark Webber’s solid doc hybrid).

A fictionalized account of mostly real events, starring the very people whose story it tells, Flesh and Blood is neither fiction nor documentary, nor entirely a hybrid of both. From actor/writer/director Mark Webber (The Ever After), the film focuses on the sometimes dysfunctional – if always loving – family dynamic between Mark, his mother Cheri and his half-brother Guillermo. As the film begins, Mark is released from prison, where he has served time for some unspecified crime, probably drug-related. That part is fictional, as Webber has no apparent criminal record. Much of what follows, however, is based on actual details from his life.

Mark’s mother Cheri is played by Cheri Lynn Honkala, who was the 2012 Green Party candidate for Vice President, a fact which is woven into this movie, though not as a main plot point (though her actual arrest, with presidential candidate Jill Stein, is featured). Part of Mark’s childhood was spent homeless, though the real Webber channeled that experience into acting, rather than serious crime. Both he and Cheri, as a result, remain committed anti-poverty activists to this day. That experience lends Flesh and Blood a rich textural understanding of the everyday lives of ordinary folks living through extraordinary trauma, and informs Webber’s narrative choices here.

Why make himself a released convict? It adds dramatic urgency to Mark’s search for self, and purpose to the examination of his past. Before long, he tracks down an ex-girlfriend, played by Madeline Brewer (Tricia Miller on Orange Is the New Black, and not a member of his family), to make amends, all the while reconnecting with Guillermo (played by real-life half-brother Guillermo Santos). Though the plot is minimalist, Webber covers a lot of emotional terrain as Mark journeys towards an understanding of how he went wrong, traveling along a path that leads him all the way back to his (former addict, like him) father. All along, we follow Webber’s engaging performance, always captivated by the deep thought process within. Flesh and blood, along with sweat and tears, a powerful movie can make.

– Christopher Llewellyn Reed (@ChrisReedFilm)

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Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, he is: lead film critic at Hammer to Nail; editor at Film Festival Today; formerly the host of the award-winning Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed, from Dragon Digital Media; and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice. In addition, he is one of the founders and former cohosts of The Fog of Truth, a podcast devoted to documentary cinema.

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