Herman's House
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Herman’s House

Building this home proves to be disappointing and barely worth the effort.

DIRECTED BY ANGAD SINGH BHALLA (Canada, Canadian Spectrum)


Friday, April 27, 9 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)

Wednesday, May 2, 9:15 p.m.
The ROM Theatre (100 Bloor Street West)

Sunday, May 6, 9:30 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)

Imagine, for a second, that you are a Black Panther who has been imprisoned for 35 years. A young woman, hearing of your solitary confinement, approaches you and stumbles upon the notion of having you design your dream home. Now, you’re not all that into houses, but you figure what the hell—and she goes ahead builds a model of your wildest whims and fancies as a well-received art project. In a sane world, this is where the sweet, albeit slight, story ends. Not for Herman Wallace and Jackie Sumell. Instead, Wallace—imprisoned for robbery and maybe killing a guard (the film barely touches on this crucial point)—has the bright idea that Sumell should buy some land and build his house, down to the giant swimming pool with a panther stenciled on the bottom.

Sumell is sweet and well-intentioned but she and her lofty artistic ambitions do not make for a compelling narrative. The production is also marred by sound inconsistencies and other production misfires (in one interview, someone walks in front of the camera). Wallace is only heard by phone, usually accompanied by old, indistinguishable films being dramatically projected onto a concrete wall or, in an unfortunate decision, random children in a park. Some may be moved by the bold and risky creative endeavour Sumell has undertaken, but more are likely to see it as not nearly worth the effort.