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By Merle Bertrand | March 24, 2002

It’s a tough time for family farmers these days. Rising costs and lower prices leads to less profit margins each year…if there even IS a profit margin at all. Add to that the unmistakable impact corporate farming has had on the family farm, roughly akin to what Wal-Mart has on local shops on any given Main Street, and it’s no wonder Willie Nelson just hosted another Farm Aid along Austin’s picturesque Auditorium Shores.
No one knows the problems farmers have making ends meet better than the Accountant (writer/director Ray McKinnon). Nor is there anyone better at coming up with, er, “creative” ways to cook the books and keep the farms in good hands than this mysterious, lanky beer drinkin’ (PBR, if you please), pickled egg-eatin’ figure who adds up his own numbers using only his fingers and foot stompings as his calculator.
His latest clients are the O’Dell brothers (Walton Goggins and Eddie King), who soon discover exactly how many buildings will have to mysteriously burn down; how many limbs will have to be severed in freak “accidents” in order to keep the farm afloat for the next generation.
Accountants are rarely amusing, but “The Accountant” is a bitterly funny short film from and starring McKinnon. Caustic and dead on the money with its shrewdly intelligent broadsides against corporatization, yet strangely, grimly optimistic, this film should be required viewing for every anti-consumption, anti-globalization protester out there…as well as those in favor of the above. Basically, that means everyone should see this oddly timed (thirty-eight minutes) short film if at all possible. As hysterical as it is haunting, and featuring a brilliant performance from McKinnon, “The Accountant” was the best film of the Austin Film Festival of any length no matter how one adds it up.

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