Victoria Film Festival Review: My Father and The Man in Black

Documentary tells the story of Johnny Cash's Nanaimo born manager Saul Holiff.

Learn about the life of Johnny Cash's Nanaimo born manager Saul Holiff in My Father and The Man in Black, screening at VFF.

What do you do when the talent you stood by in his early career finally achieves stardom, becomes born-again Christian and then casts you in his Evangelistic epic, Gospel Road, as Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest who was involved in the crucifixion of Jesus?

This is just one of the many bizarre twists about Johnny Cash’s long-time manager, Saul Holiff.

My Father And The Man In Black is a compelling documentary made by Holiff’s estranged son, Jonathan. A successful L.A. talent manager, Jonathan left his job to investigate his absentee father’s life following news of his suicide.

His father’s storage locker in Nanaimo (yes, this is a Canadian story) held many clues and surprises. As well as the gold records, scrapbooks and memorabilia, audio diary tapes take Jonathan right into his dad’s emotional life.

These “voice from the grave” thoughts were recorded on the road, through the rocky relationship with Johnny Cash and June Carter — the taxing, crazy-making job of having gigs trashed by the addicted, erratic Cash in his early years.

Then, as Cash straightened out and his star rose, Holiff’s fell. At the peak of Cash’s career, this long-suffering manager fired his star. In that storage locker are the clues as to why.

Jonathan realizes his own relationship with his father is inextricably linked to his father’s relationship with Cash.

It’s an intriguing look into the lives of powerful figures, behind the scenes of both careers and the sometimes devastating toll that ambition takes on relationships with the people around them.

Some of the reenactments are awkward and too conscientious, but for fans of Cash who love his music, (don’t we all?) and for those of us who got just a glimpse of his life story in the 2005 feature, Walk The Line, this is a revealing look into the lives of two complicated men who made the Man In Black such an icon. M

Sun., Feb. 3 • Empire #6 • 6:45pm

Sat., Feb. 9 • Empire #6 • 4:30pm

 

 

Review by Bruce Saunders, Movie Monday

www.moviemonday.ca

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