The Stoughton Village Players are in the midst of their very own summer film program. Dedicated to “indie, documentary and cult films,” the theater troupe’s “Off-The-Beaten-Path” series has already screened Night of the Living Dead as well as shorts by (and a panel with) Wisconsin’s own Chad Vader crew.
This Thursday features a presentation of Last Day at Lambeau, the 2012 documentary and first feature from Story First Media that looks at the tumultuous love-hate relationship between former(?) NFL quarterback Brett Favre and Green Bay Packer fans.
Personalizing an already touchy subject in the hearts of midwestern football fans, director Michael Neelsen begins on an equally personal note as he recalls childhood excursions to Packers training camp with his father. Neelsen’s photographs and the interviews he scores with Green Bay fanatics start Brett Favre’s eventual departure from the franchise on a cherished, even sacred course — so much so that non-sports fans can already see where this relationship is headed.
Sports media perspectives approximate the fallout between Favre and the Packers organization, and the accounts of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Lori Nickel and former Green Bay Press-Gazette writer Tom Pelissero make for a fascinating mixture of opinion and half-facts. The mysterious motives that would lead to the “Gunslinger” signing with the Minnesota Vikings in 2009 are treated (and acknowledged) as something akin to the pettiest presidential assassination, but watching devoted Packers bloggers and Paul Allen (of Minnesota’s KFAN sports radio) struggle to balance journalistic obligation and passion is a blast.
Neelsen includes NFL Network footage and highlights from Favre’s best and worst moments in the pocket, but it’s his own narration that gives an emotional authenticity to what transpired between August 2008 and November 2010. Neither Neelsen as a director nor Last Day‘s select slice of fans make a solid case as to why the Packer cognoscenti have the divine right to be so upset. But really, that unanswered element is the essence of Last Day at Lambeau, where Gonzo journalism en masse meets documentary filmmaking. Distinctions aren’t parsed out because in the film’s mind, and I suspect many fans’ minds as well, betrayal and business are one and the same.
- Last Day at Lambeau plays at the Stoughton Village Players Theater (255 East Main St.) on Thursday July 31 at 7:30p. Members of Story First Media will be in attendance for a Q&A. Admission is $5.