FULL FRAME REVIEW: Behind the curtain in Branson, Mo.

Apr. 04, 2013 @ 05:33 PM

“We Always Lie To Strangers” (4:30 p.m. Sunday in Cinema 1, Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St., Durham)

In the final hours of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, one of the best in the schedule will be shown, and it’s about Branson, Mo.

 “We Always Lie To Strangers” is one of the invited films, and with good reason. Filmmakers AJ Schnack, David Wilson and Nathan Truesdell let us see what’s behind the curtain of all those music shows in a small Ozark town famed for its wholesome image and apple pie performances.

What the filmmakers do is give us not a glimpse, but a chance to get to know the families, the performers, the drama and the reality when the glittering costumes come off. The subjects, including the Presley and Lennon families, are open about their lives on stage and off. They love what they do, but they also have struggles. So does the town, facing the result of the economic downturn. Tourists spend less money in a town sustained by tourism.

On the surface, Branson appears to be a Republican town promoting conservative values of God, country and family. The truth is that they do indeed love God, their country and their families, but their families don’t look like a Republican postcard. High school sweethearts marry but also divorce. Dads don’t pay child support. Some dads are gay. Mothers supply the household income. A woman is mayor. People struggle to keep their show businesses afloat. Performers are normal sized people. “We Always Lie to Strangers” shows that the personal reality is more complicated than on stage projections. This film is a portrait of a town as it is, not what it wishes it was. And that’s what’s great about it.

For tickets and schedule information, visit www.fullframefest.org.