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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 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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