A film I couldn’t stop watching.

by Martin Hafer

Grade: A

John Hutelmyer has limited experience in the film industry and Adventures of a Secret Kidd is his very first chance to helm his own picture…and it’s really a rather amazing film. Part of this is because the subject of the film, Kenn Kweder, is not a dull guy in the least and his interesting life made it possible to make a very good film. However, the big part of this is because Hutelmyer did a really nice job in assembling the picture and he apparently worked for several years on this very personal project–hanging out with Kweder as well as directing, filming and editing the film. In light of the quality of the documentary, I think Hutelmyer has a bright future in the movie industry provided the right people see his film and take notice. And, take notice I think they will.

As I mentioned above, I’d never heard of Kenn Kweder and this is likely because I’ve never lived in the Philadelphia area. In Philly, apparently, Kweder is a bit of a local legend as his music and unusual commitment to music. Unlike a lot of musicians, Kweder lives to perform–even well into his 60s. Whether it’s his music or covering songs from other bands, it’s obvious that he comes alive when performing in bars, parks and small clubs and you see this repeatedly throughout this film. And, unlike most struggling musicians, Kenn doesn’t have a day job but lives only for his music–even if it doesn’t allow him to live a glamorous lifestyle. It’s all about the music. But the story isn’t that simple and when the documentary goes back in time to Kweder’s youth, you can see that he actually gained some notoriety and folks from big record labels came to him with contracts. However, Kweder is his own person and balked at the notion of becoming the sort of act others wanted him to be and he walked away from fame and big money.

The other part to the story that is unusual is Kweder’s metabolism. I think when (and if) he dies, the government should study the man at length to see what kept him alive. This is because he’s also an admitted alcoholic and you see him drinking throughout the film. Yet, amazingly, he’s a very high functioning alcoholic despite have drunk an amazing amount of liquor as well as drugs. He also apparently still made his gigs and managed to do quite well while imbibing enough to possibly kill Keith Richards!!

So why is all this so captivating? Well, it’s lovely to see the story of a guy who really couldn’t care less about money and fame and who lives only for his music. This made his story very interesting for me. But, for musicians, this movie is an absolute must-see. I realized that after the film ended at the film festival and the man in charge of the event could hardly talk because he was so choked up about the documentary. It turns out he, too, is a musician and he told me that the documentary is one of the best he’d ever seen. I’m no musician…but it is pretty incredible. What also is incredible is how interesting Kweder is…as he seems to have a million stories and the film is never boring in the least. In fact, I didn’t notice any lulls at all about the picture…a testament both to Kweder and the filmmaker. All in all, a fascinating portrait that was lovingly assembled and is well worth your time.

Adventures of a Secret Kidd: The Mass Hallucination of Kenn Kweder: TEASER from john hutelmyer on Vimeo.