Rules are meant to be broken and I suppose this is required for an art documentary. Leave the Bus Through The Broken Window is the story of filmmaker Andrew Hevia as he covers the prestigious contemporary art fair, Art Basel in Hong Kong. Andrew’s documentary is many things and the real struggle comes in figuring out exactly what it is.
This is Andrew’s story as an American Expat in the beautiful city of Hong Kong. The film is narrated by a typical female computer-generated text-to-speech voice and told in the second person. For example, “You are in Hong Kong to make a film about an art fair.” There is a moment at the beginning of the film, where I struggled just to figure out what I was watching. A piece of advice…give up the struggle and the experience will get better.
“…an American Expat in Hong Kong…narrated by a female computer-generated text-to-speech voice and told in the second person.”
This is what I understand about the story. Filmmaker Andrew Hevia just broke up with his girlfriend in the States and soon follows another girl to China. His journey brings him to Hong Kong to make a documentary about the art fair. Upon arrival, he anxiously attempts to acclimate to Hong Kong’s culture., first by renting a 40-square-foot apartment and experiencing his first panic attack that night. Andrew starts his journey filming the Art Basel, attending pop-up art installations, and following local artists. He would eventually attend a party and with a little foreshadowing, meet a friend at a rooftop party just before that friend falls off.
Honestly, the narrative really doesn’t matter. Leave The Bus Through The Broken Window is in and of itself a piece of art within an art film. First, the art. We do attend several art shows, and for the art lovers, you’ll find it interesting. What I found fascinating was Hevia’s attempt to connect with the art around him, which was a challenge due to the cultural and language barrier of Hong Kong. Art should be an appeal for the sake of art, but often art needs context to make an emotional connection.
While this is supposed to be a documentary about the art fair, it starts to feel more like Hevia’s social media travelogue. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no vlog posts or social media likes and hashtags. This travel journal is a series of short video clips strung together by the computer-generated voiceover blending both a travel narrative and roundabout commentary about his feelings and experience. All footage is shot through the eyes of Hevia and once in a while, he makes a creepy appearance in a mirror or takes an unflattering selfie. All this makes Leave The Bus Through The Broken Window the most original and fascinating documentary you’ll see all year.
“…immediately cast those feelings aside and enjoy what you see…Hevia is a fantastic cinematographer.”
The moment you start to think, “What the hell is this crap,” please immediately cast those feelings aside and enjoy what you see. If anything, Hevia is a fantastic cinematographer. Every video clip is shot like a moving picture you’d see in an art museum. Hong Kong is a beautiful city and its culture, even politics, gives its art a distinct style and feeling. While Hevia’s narrative is unorthodox, he makes effective use of audio and visual pauses throughout and his seemingly random voiceover feels intentional.
Leave The Bus Through The Broken Window is a film you have to experience, just to say you experienced it. This is perfect for purveyors of art and art films. It’s also perfect for the filmgoer, who just wants to see something out of the ordinary.
Leave The Bus Through The Broken Window (2019) Directed by Andrew Hevia. Leave The Bus Through The Broken Window screened at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.
8 out of 10 stars