Better This World
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Better This World

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3 1/2 STARS
Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega (USA/UK, World Showcase)

Screenings:
Monday, May 2, 6:00 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)
Wednesday, May 4, 4:15 p.m.
Cumberland 3 (159 Cumberland Street)


It’s hard to gauge who comes out of Better This World looking more like a duplicitous piece of garbage: United States Homeland Security or the social activists opposing them. But there is one obvious villain who comes out of the film smelling like seven different stripes of shit: Brandon Darby, the Texas “activist” who went undercover for the FBI to rat out fellow organizers involved in protest against the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis.
Better This World re-opens the case of David McKay and Bradley Crowder, two Texas twenty-somethings indicted for fashioning Molotov cocktails. Thing is, Crowder and McKay attested that it was Darby who actually radicalized them politically, encouraging them to put on muscle mass so they’d be better equipped to (as Darby put it) “take the fucker down.”
While there’s no way to know if they’re just covering their asses, something about Darby certainly stinks. In this respect, it’s not as if the filmmakers are unbiased. The hard-on the film has for Crowder and McKay is visible from a mile away, with scenes of their family reunions being set to insufferably twee indie pop. When it has all its ducks in a row, Better This World makes an exceptionally strong case for why certain justice institutions are in need of massive reform. And with last year’s G20 still in the rear-view mirror, its images of extra-legal violence (on the part of cops and political activists) is bound to resonate with Toronto audiences.

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