Tarnation is an euphemism for damnation. “What in tarnation?” indicates disbelief. This is how Jonathan Caouette builds his part documentary, part narrative fiction out of hundreds of hours of old Super 8 footage, VHS videotape, photographs, and answering machine messages accumulated over 20 years, mixed with early short films, snippets of ’80s pop culture, and dramatic reenactments. It all begins in 2003 when Caouette learns that his schizophrenic mother Renee has overdosed on her lithium medication. Caouette is brutally sent back to his horrifying family history. Growing up, Caouette reconnects to life through a queer chosen family and eventually faces the terrible love he shares with his mother.
Jonathan Caouette is the director of the highly praised film Tarnation (2004), produced by Gus Van Sant and John Cameron Mitchell. Tarnation screened at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, the Cannes International Film Festival, and a number of other prestigious film festivals and won several awards, including the best documentary award at the Los Angeles IFP/West Film Festival, the Sutherland Trophy from the British Film Institute, and an award from the National Society of Film Critics. It was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. Caouette is also an actor who has appeared in films and on the stage. –Sundance
Un collage de reminiscencias pero con un estilo excéntrico, pop, fantástico. Lo que causa más atención de este documental es su modo narrativo. Es ausente el narrador, en su lugar lo reemplaza una serie de grabaciones, fotos y líneas que siguen el curso de la historia. Un arduo trabajo que además se da el lujo de innovar su estética.