The winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 1999 Slamdance Film Festival, Heidi Van Lier’s “stalkumentary” is a compelling low budget indie film that is as funny as it is disturbing. This black and white mockumentary chronicles the life of Heather, a pathetic, disillusioned Chicago girl who is out to prove that she can have sex with ANY MAN she wants at ANY TIME. Heather’s results are comically disastrous, but the film results in a great story of obsession and voyeurism.
Shot totally hand held, we see Heather (played by Heidi Van Lier, the film’s writer/director) out in the streets of Chicago telling the documentary camera about her theory of men. That is, men only want one thing, and she is hell-bent on proving it. What the camera is really capturing is a confused young woman who is having trouble getting over her last boyfriend, whom she still perpetually calls and follows without his awareness. As man after man shoot her propositions down, she justifies it with excuses. She’s totally unaware that her crass attitude is a total turn off to every potential victim she meets. Her come-ons as she hits on men in the bar sound more abrasive than seductive. There are also frequent comments from the men about how she is unattractive and overweight.
The film takes a 180-degree turn when we start to realize that the cameraman is slowly falling in love with Heather. When Heather finally succeeds with her experiment with a young businessman, the filmmaker is unable to leave, and starts STALKING HEATHER! The cameraman won’t stop filming Heather, following her everywhere she goes.
This is the kind of filmmaking that real indie film fans can get behind. The director is totally aware of the character’s irony and shortcomings and yet she plays them honestly and directly, never tipping her hat that it’s only a character in a movie. Voyeurism and stalking has been successfully dealt with in other recent films, including There’s Something About Mary and the indie film Shooting Lily, but Chi Girl is the first one to take it to an extreme, unafraid to show it’s pros and cons. Like the cameraman, you really start to fall in love with Heather because you’re more aware of who she is that she is, a new twist in film protagonists. A real crown pleaser, Chi Girl has cult status written all over it.