Editors Note: “Price is Right” is a running column from local film enthusiast Mr. Price. He reviews selected Strasburg Film Festival films. If he posts a negative review, then the Shenandoah Film Collaborative will respond within his reviews as to why we selected the certain film. By going about it this way, we can help ensure the reader that these are honest film reviews.
“The Pacifist”, a documentary produced and directed by Alex Zhort, invites the audience into the life of Larry Bassett, a man battling the IRS over his refusal to pay income taxes. Larry is unapologetic in his refusal to willingly give money that will be used to fund military action, a stance which is challenged by the inheritance of $1 million after the death of his father. As the film unfolds, we see in Larry a man willing to stand up for what he believes in, despite a very real fear of the potential consequences, and we are given a compelling insight into the heart and mind of a truly compassionate man.
As Larry puts it, he is not intellectual in his philosophy. He sums up his refusal to pay federal income taxes simply, “people pay, and people get killed”. And Zhort’s film follows the example of its subject. At times Larry’s message is vividly contrasted with footage of war zones or cheerily narrated propaganda. Other times, the film simply falls back, letting Larry take the reins. The potential for the film or the subject to come across as preaching is avoided by the raw honesty of both. Instead we are presented with the story of a man who, after using the majority of his inheritance to make charitable contributions and ensure his daughters’ educations are paid for, is simply happy that he has enough left to eat at his favorite restaurant any time he wants.
Like the man himself, “The Pacifist” is heartfelt, self-assured, and honest to its core.