Mistaken for Strangers (2013) - Hot Docs 2013
(dir. Tom Berninger)
Mistaken For Strangers is perhaps one of the most honest, and self-deprecating, documentaries I’ve seen. If you’re all, “ah cool, a documentary about The National—I love that band, bro!” then I should warn you that this documentary has very little do to with The National. Sure, the title of the film is a National song. And, okay, yeah, the filmmaker, Tom Berninger, is the younger brother of Matt Berninger—lead singer of The National. And he does, in fact, join The National on tour in hopes of creating a bad ass rock documentary, or “rockumentary” as people in the know (read: my friend James) call them.
Berninger starts off his journey getting ready to go on tour with his brother for the first time. He’s been hired to be a roadie but he’s also hoping to use the opportunity to get out of his creative rut and make a super bad ass documentary. Except Berninger is kind of a dork. And he isn’t really good at being a roadie. Or making a rockumentary.
Instead, Berninger creates an incredibly raw and honest “diary” of sorts. Bits and pieces of what he must have envisioned for his rockumentary (including members of the band doing the worm, because that’s totally what happens in a rockumentary) are edited in with his failings—arguments with his brother, not doing his job properly, eventually getting fired, struggling with his brother’s success and fame.
And I have to think, it can’t be easy to have a brother as a rock star. Luckily my brother is way less cool than I am, so I don’t have to worry about that. Actually, that’s a total lie. My brother is actually a lot cooler than me. I feel your pain, Tom. Except I think you’re rad too. Maybe even radder than your brother. Although Matt does look very sharp in a vest.
Mistaken for Strangers takes us from the very start of Berninger’s project to the very end. We watch as he covers a wall at his brother’s home with Post-it notes—trying to find a story amongst all of the footage. All the while I’m rooting for him to find the courage to finish his documentary and then I remember that I’m actually watching it. And it is so awesome.
Check out the trailer below:
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