SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! Holy Frit opens with artist, Tim Carey, working a mild-mannered job at Judson Studios. When offered the opportunity of a lifetime, Carey puts his charisma to good use, swinging himself a gig designing the largest stained glass window in the world. The problem with the project is that he has zero ideas on how to do this or if it’s even possible. 161 panels in three years is challenging. However, adding the need for artistic techniques only ever accomplished by one man is where the impossible kicks in. By recruiting “that one man,” Narcissus Qualiata, to work on the window, it’s a race against all odds. Carey and his team set out to take the art world by storm or be frauds trying.
Commissioned by Rev. Adam Hamilton, the team – Carey, Qualiata, and studio founder David Judson – begins the long process of creating a stained glass window roughly the size of an NBA court. After the first panel takes almost a month, it becomes increasingly apparent this cannot be done. With the help of a dedicated team and the studio manager, the team is constantly working at breakneck speed to make the North American Sistine Capel.
“…the long process of creating a stained-glass window roughly the size of an NBA court.”
Director Justin Monroe does an excellent job showcasing the personalities at play in this ticking clock of art experiment. Tim Carey is an incredible artist who works harder than anyone, but his constant joking makes him seem like the most motivated Judd Apatow lead ever – like if Da Vinci was a slacker. Narcissus Qualiata has all the makings of a classic mad-genius. Even the studio manager’s arc from former drug addict to panel designer is inspiring. Holy Frit is packed with themes ranging from the responsibility of an artist, the Whiplash-esque drive to create, and the life-changing majesty of such a project. Above all, it’s a film about the people who accomplish this feat. Like a great heist film, the documentary brings together a crew of unlikely personalities and showcases the lengths they go to do something inadvisable, insane, and inarguably brilliant.
The film has so many highlights I could write a small term paper on them all. Despite a two-hour runtime, the editing is so tight, there are almost no wasted seconds. Monroe depicts Carey and Qualiata’s relationship with incredible depth. And quite importantly, the explanations of even the most complex artistic techniques are always entertaining.
The last time I was this entertained by an art documentary, it was Exit Through the Giftshop featuring none other than Banksy. Holy Frit has enough personality for any non-art fan to enjoy and invest in while having more than enough artistic measure to wow even the most jaded art aficionados. Admittedly, the film is not the most rewatchable, but how often do you honestly re-watch documentaries? Holy Frit is a fun, engaging art film; an absolute must-watch.
Holy Frit screened at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival.
"…so many highlights I could write a small term paper on them..."