Film Review: The Peddler

The Peddler is amiable documentary that will have you smiling and laughing throughout. Directors Eduardo de la Serna, Lucas Marcheggiano and Adriana Yurcovich capture the action without judgement or negativity, resulting in a delightful film to watch.

Daniel Burmeister travels around small Argentinian towns making films. His only request to the Mayor is for food and lodgings. Burmeister makes his films on a non-existent budget using locals as his actors. The film follows the director as he auditions, shoots and screens his movie.

At the beginning of the documentary it is unclear whether Burmeister is genuine or a fraud. Any doubts are quickly vanquished, however, when the director talks of his love of filmmaking and why he goes from town to town making these moves. His passion for filmmaking is only matched by the love for his family, it seems.

Much of the film’s humour is derived from the inventive methods Burmeister employs to make his film. After holding auditions, he tells the assembled locals that they all in fact have made  it into his film. Later, he builds props himself, and even considers creative ways of fixing his car.

His slapdash approach is a cause for much amusement throughout The Peddler. Due to budget and time confinements, he pulls a local off the street to finish the vicar’s scenes, as the clergyman has already gone home. As the filmmaking process continues, you wonder what the end result will be. The scenes from the movie appear hilarious in their dialogue and action.

The directors excel in providing an encompassing view of Burmeister’s filmmaking process. In addition to the footage of the pre-production, shoots and editing, a number of the locals are interviewed about the filmmaker and the film. It is heartening to listen to their opinions; all have positive things to say about Burmeister, as well as extolling the value of the film in bringing the community together. It is obvious that the director is having a very positive effect, in spite of the quality of his film.

Burmeister is a fascinating subject, and The Peddler is filled with good-natured humour. As a light and heartwarming documentary, The Peddler ranks highly.

The Peddler is being screened at the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival in October 2010.


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