Written By: Jaime Winston
Pablo Bryant’s “Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep End” tells the story of Dwayne Booth (Mr. Fish), known for his editorial cartoons that push the envelope and regularly criticize the United States government, military and mass media, at times featuring nudity and profanity.
Some art featured in Bryant’s doc may get you to laugh, saying, “This Fish guy knows what he’s talking about.” But other works may hit a nerve, challenging your ideals — whether you’re leaning to the right or left. (While Mr. Fish is highly critical of President Trump, Harper’s Magazine once stopped publishing his artwork after he began targeting Barack Obama.)
The film goes beyond Booth’s cartoon work to give us a picture of his day-to-day life.
We meet Booth’s wife, who is worried about the crippling debt their family faces. We meet his daughters, whom he taught the disturbing history of the first Thanksgiving. And we learn about the roadblocks he faces trying to get by as a political cartoonist while publications that offer an outlet to critical voices are disappearing or softening their tones.
The film also touches on the dangers political cartoonists face, pointing to threatening online comments and the attack onCharlie Hebdo in Paris three years ago.
Animated sequences in the film help move the story along as we visit the wide range of locations Booth’s work takes him, from a gallery showing to a University of Pennsylvania classroom.
Fair warning: “Fuck your ass” is one of the milder terms you’ll hear in the film.
Even if you disagree with Mr. Fish’s messages or find his artwork distasteful, the film gets you to question what our culture would lose without defiant voices.
And isn’t defiance sort of what independent film festivals are supposedly all about?
Wednesday, Jan. 24, 8:15 p.m., Gallery, Treasure Mountain Inn, Park City
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