Documentary ‘Crestone’ explores the nuances of a handful of Colorado Soundcloud artists

Documentary ‘Crestone’ offers True/False patrons a look into the life of a Colorado SoundCloud artist and others from an unconventional point-of-view.

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On Friday night, I had the pleasure of viewing my first True/False Film Fest film of 2020, “Crestone.” It was one of the better films I’ve seen in my four years of attending True/False. I’ve never been the biggest fan of documentaries; I’m more of a David Fincher, Quentin Tarantino, high-budget, star-studded, intricate, subtle but also in-your-face-cinema admirer. Documentaries are a total change of pace from my status quo. Heck, I literally watched “Goodfellas” first thing Friday morning.

For those who don’t know, True/False is a documentary film festival held on the first weekend of March. Yes, documentaries. That’s not to say documentaries can’t be entertaining, but a good chunk of the ones I’ve seen are extremely slow-paced and rather uninteresting (at least to me — per my move-goer profile discussed earlier). However, seeing “Crestone” was a redeeming experience. It was a wholesome, unique film that made me feel like I knew the characters, knowing the closest I’d ever get to them was being in the crowded Forrest Theater of the Tiger Hotel, sitting sandwiched shoulder-to-shoulder between two old men, behind the gigantic head of the person in front of me, blocking a good third of the screen.

Directed by Marnie Ellen Hertzler, “Crestone” follows the lives of her former high school friends, SoundCloud rapper Sloppy (ChamplooSloppy on SoundCloud) and his like-minded companions, growing weed and making beats in the arid San Luis Valley. Sloppy bares a striking resemblance to Post Malone: a round-bellied, tattoo-chested, curly-haired musical artist (well, a SoundCloud artist).

Among the endless dunes, fields and mountain ranges comes a stream of endless ideas and interactions between the artists. Hertzler does a great job of bringing out each characters’ personality, letting audiences know the rappers beneath the tattoos and under the weed smoke.

Their new, post-apocalyptic life, isolated and unplugged, is shown through Hertzler’s camera work, her own narration, as well as narration from subjects featured throughout the documentary. Drone footage is used on numerous occasions, showing the vastness and reach of the Colorado desert, putting their alienation in perspective. Narration usually accompanies the drone footage, making for a sentimental effect and seemingly personal dialogue. As some scenes unfolded, Hertzler sprinkled grainy, weathered film stills of the scenes, adding depth and texture to the documentary.

There’s not much else I can say about Crestone. Though it thrives off narration, I feel like it’s a show-not-tell experience, and seeing the vastness of the Colorado terrain and these lives, stripped and unburdened by responsibilities of conforming to society, is a humbling experience.

Edited by George Frey | gfrey@themaneater.com

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