The French-speaking Gabonese Republic of Central Africa and its most sought after resource, the wild Iboga plant, is the location of a very odd documentary-movie-in-the-making. Not surprisingly, a peaceful coexistence between the filmmaker, his crew, and the natives is not in the cards.
Sick Birds Die Easy is Nicholas Fackler’s newest feature film, and on somewhat of a continuum of matters exposed in his philosophically-precocious debut-movie, Lovely Still. The most obvious difference between Lovely Still and Sick Birds Die Easy is the fact that the former is a narrative and the latter a supposed documentary. More about that, later.
Fackler’s goal in Sick Birds Die Easy is to study the reactions of his questionable cast, crew and himself as they make their way through the jungles of Central Africa in pursuit of the hallucinogenic Iboga. According to Fackler and company, three days of being strung out on Iboga will not only cure the most deeply entrenched junkie of all possible addictions, but will allow that addict to see God and discover the true meaning of life.
In order to decide whether Fackler succeeds in his cinematic quest, viewers must decide if they can believe that Sick Birds Die Easy is really the documentary movie Fackler proclaims on his IMDb page. We might also question whether Fackler is truly the filmmaker or just another victim-actor of the movie itself. Here the word “really,” and corresponding terms, “truly,” “real,” and “reality,” are Fackler’s focal points in both Sick Birds Die Easy and its predecessor, Lovely Still, though both films seem as far apart as the United States is from equatorial Africa—but still we’ll try to believe Fackler in spite of heaping doubts.
Fackler’s documentary “characters” consist of a trust fund baby/musician-wannabe, his hippie-wannabe girlfriend, a conspiracy-theorist-politically-incorrect-burnout/Apocalyptic-Seer (who seems shockingly normal), a Frenchmen who’s experienced Iboga and embodies all truths, various other freaks and geeks, and the ever-ubiquitous Nicholas Fackler in whatever form and meaning he exists in at the time.
So what’s Sick Birds Die Easy really about? To tell you the truth, I’m not sure. I’m still completely on the fence as to whether I can take the movie seriously as a documentary, or not. It also doesn’t help that the film and its maker reek of Guy Maddinism— (Really… Maddinism?)— with Sick Birds Die Easy a curious clone of Maddin’s My Winnipeg, complete with the maddening, monotonous and ongoing filmmaker-voiceover.
One thing I do know is that Nicholas Fackler is completely on par with his cinematic trajectory— and he seems to be loving the journey. For that alone, we can only love Fackler, his Sick Birds Die Easy (whatever that filmic-title really means), and what Fackler is destined to create in the future.
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