It is quite possible for someone to find beauty in even the most decrepit of things. If you think is beautiful, it is then possible that others can try and move in and prosper from it. Such is the case in the documentary “Third Ward TX,” a film that really holds firm the belief that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” It is just too bad that the documentary takes about twenty minutes to get to the meat of the story, and by then, it is easy to pass this documentary off as just an inside look that really doesn’t deliver a deeper meaning.
“Third Ward TX” takes a look at the town of Third Ward and how a handful of artists have taken the poor town and turned it into a beautiful, habitable place that makes the residents proud again. The artists start up a program called “Project Row House” that takes a row of houses from the community and lets artists come in and turn them into their own art showcases. It is soon evident that the town is something to be profited on, and local contractors move in to buy up the locals’ houses. This is a heart-felt documentary that really seems on the fly, though it has a subtle professionalism when it comes to documenting the residents of the town.
Andrew Garrison both shot and directed the documentary and he does a great job at portraying the town and the residents through both stills and guerilla-style interviews. While planning obviously had to go into the interviews, I liked that he chose to conduct them in a matter that just seemed like a normal guy holding a camera. The town isn’t exactly the most beautiful thing to look at, but to the people who live there, the land is beautiful and price-less and Garrison does a good job of transferring that over. Even though I enjoyed his ways of filmmaking, I do have to say that the pacing is really odd for the story.
For the first twenty minutes, the film flounders a bit, feeling like it takes way too long to establish everything in the town and get to the problem of the contractors (and how they are slowly destroying the culture of Third Ward). Now twenty minutes may not sound too bad, but when a documentary is only fifty-five minutes long, you expect the narrative to flow a bit quicker. It is easy for an audience to lose interest in a documentary if the conflict isn’t stated close to the beginning. Other than that, though, I enjoyed the conflict with the oily-looking contractors that were so eager to develop over-priced town houses in the poverty stricken neighborhood.
The documentary is pretty straight-forward. A town has risen above hopelessness and is now facing an impending doom of cookie-cutter housing developments that will run the original people out of their homes. It was an interesting doc, and even though it had a few problems, they didn’t really stop me all that much from being introduced to a life of art that I have never witnessed before.