The Peddler

Daniel Burmeister chugs into the village in a beat-up red four-door, looking for the mayor. More prolific than Steven Soderbergh, more resourceful than Orson Welles, the avuncular seventysomething is both a filmmaker for hire and the definitive auteur. In exchange for food and lodging, Burmeister offers to make a movie in less than a month, using local residents as his cast. No contracts, no red tape, no grant proposals in triplicate-just a pitch and a handshake and he's ready to roll. Choosing one of the half-dozen trusty genre scripts he's been using for years, Burmeister sets about scouting locations, recruiting “actors,” and spreading the word about his project. An act of community as much as a creative act, the filmmaking process elicits varying degrees of curiosity and commitment. Some of the amateur thespians display remarkable natural ability, while the children are enticed by the lure of reflected glamour (and any escape from the boredom of backwater life). But Burmeister doesn't trade in false hopes and empty promises; likewise, this endearing, generous portrait is uninterested in the tired clichés of deluded small-town dreams and fleeting fame. Instead we are treated to the start-from-scratch optimism and on-the-fly problem solving that defines filmmakers all over the world, with Burmeister's pushed-to-the-limit DIY credo generating delicious moments of inspired absurdity. There truly is nothing like the magic of movies, and as the lights dim in the makeshift theater for the premiere of Let's Kill the Uncles, our anticipation is as keen as if it were opening night at Cannes.

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.