In a previous article we mentioned this upcoming documentary, Keepers of the Kingdom. A few months later the film is done and it has recently been shown to audiences in special screenings.
Regrettably, AtTheFaire.com was not able to go (but we did get an invite :). We do, however, plan to present as many reviews of this film as we can get contributed.
Here is the first one...
KEEPERS OF THE KINGDOM REVIEW
May 29, 2001
On May 26, 2001, in Waxahachie, Texas, a documentary filmmaker, Christopher Gomersall, http://www.keepersofthekingdom.com, had a private film screening of Keepers of the Kingdom for select (?) faire participants from the various Texas shows (including Scarborough Faire, Hawkwood Festival and Texas Renaissance Festival).
The film itself was amusing, interesting, funny and worth the time spent to watch it. At the end of the evening, the crowd erupted into applause, and gave the filmmaker an extended, enthusiastic standing ovation.
It was billed as a film that gave you insight into the lifestyle of "rennies" but, instead, it is a film about Renaissance faires by a Renaissance patron. That is its viewpoint, so as colorful and interesting as it is, it does not convey the essence of life on the Renaissance faire circuit as much as it portrays a Saturday afternoon at the faire (with a little Wednesday morning prep work as well).
The film interviews both actual rennies and costumed patrons, but it doesn't make much of a distinction or always explain to you which is which. (If you actually ARE a "rennie", that distinction is probably important to you.) You saw lots of elaborate and bizarre costumes, and lots of posturing.
At the same time, you wanted to hear more about (for example) the sword swallower's truly fascinating life, but were only given a taste of it.
I was hoping for a film that followed the participants from show to show, from the grocery store to the laundromatand which also interviewed the local townsfolk, and gave me a snapshot of Texas farmers standing behind long-haired, tie-dyed rennies in line at the Wal-Mart.
I wanted to see craftspeople making their wares, then selling them (all the while telling their stories.) I wanted detailed and in-depth life stories from any of the thousands of eclectic, intelligent, interesting people who bring the show to life each weekend.
There is still room for a film like that, just as there is room for a film like this one, which conveys a feeling and a moment without necessarily telling you the whole truth about how talented the performers and craftspeople really are, and how they really live.
So reviews were mixed. Nevertheless it was an enjoyable, interesting hour, and well-spent. If you're interested, you might want to contact the filmmaker at his web site to see if you can obtain a copy.
About the Reviewer
Nell Gavin, author of Threads (to be released in June - see www.nellgavin.com) has been working Renaissance faires since 1976. Her home faire since 1983 is Scarborough Faire in Waxahachie, Texas.
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