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Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story

This inventive documentary investigates the mystery man beneath the papier-mâché head of cult British comedy figure Frank Sidebottom.

Dir-Prod Steve Sullivan
With Paula Sievey, Jon Ronson, Johnny Vegas
UK
2018
100min
UK Distribution Altitude Film Distribution

2014’s Frank fictionalised the identity of an artist performing under an outsized papier-mâché head with distinctive Pacman-shaped eyes. The truth is arguably even stranger. Manchester native Chris Sievey dreamed of pop-music stardom but belated recognition only came incognito, through his loveably anarchic creation. Working from Sievey’s own exhaustive self-documentation (old cassettes, degraded video) and deftly incorporating interviews with loved ones and admirers (including former band members DJ Mark Radcliffe and Frank’s co-screenwriter Jon Ronson), director Steve Sullivan assembles a compelling portrait of a mercurial, often tortured artist with a chequered private life. Though the Sidebottom head is revealed as both a vehicle for success and eventual aesthetic straightjacket, the film fittingly evokes Sievey’s painstaking, handcrafted art at its frank, freewheeling best.

Leigh Singer

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