An excellent film when you don’t want anything taxing and you just want to smile.

by Martin Hafer

Papa is a strange little documentary that will probably do nothing to change your life. It’s silly, a bit pointless and goofy…and sometimes that’s really all you want from a film. In my case, I’d just finished watching a Bollywood film as well as a Japanese film and I felt tired from watching the subtitles and concentrating so hard….and Papa came as a welcome relief.

After a very short introduction that gives the highlights of the life and career of Ernest Hemingway, the film jumps right into the finale of the 2011 Ernest Hemingway Lookalike Contest which is held in Key West each July. After crowning the new champion, the film then travels about Florida and Massachusetts interviewing some of the folks planning on attending the 2012 competition. No experts or college professors are interviewed…just a lot of paunchy middle aged guys as well as some of their friends and families. And, oddly, some of them really seemed to take this competition seriously! And, ultimately the film shows the crowning of the champion in the 2012 contest.

Directed by
Shane Christian Eason
Marvin Bethune, Charlie Boice, Greg Fawcett
Release Date
6 April 2016
Martin’s Grade: B-

The fact that there is a four year gap between the end of this film and its release in 2016 is not surprising. For many young indie filmmakers, assembling a movie is very costly and time consuming and three, four or five year delays are not uncommon. I assume the filmmaker Shane Christian Eason has other jobs which keep him busy and Papa was completed when he had spare time, as he has many credits as producer, composer, editor and a few other jobs in the film industry. Overall, his film is cute and enjoyable…especially if you happen to be a paunchy, white-haired middle-aged man! And, like many documentaries I’ve enjoyed, it just lets folks talk and be themselves with no narration or criticism or critique.

By the way, although it’s not mentioned in the film, I checked and found that the 2016 winner was very unusual. It seems that Dave Hemingway (no relation) was crowned the winner this past summer!