Hot Docs 2015: Seth’s Dominion Review


Canadian cartoonist and comic book dream-weaver Seth has long been one of those most interesting figures in his medium. Though he employs a simple and cartoony style, Seth’s work is fearlessly personal, autobiographical, and often even existential. He’s also remarkably prolific cranking out books, comics, and models at an extraordinary rate. Yet, despite how much of his own life that Seth has slathered all over his pages, very little information is available about the artist from outside sources. Director Luc Chamberland rights that wrong in this beautiful little documentary that both Seth and Chamberland can be proud of. The movie is narrated by Seth through a series of interviews, but the style of the film changes constantly. At times his stories play out through puppet shows, at times through oddly archaic montages borrowing film language of the past, and most often through beautifully recreated animations of some of his most personal and profound work.

The result is a wonderfully creative little doc that honors and embodies it’s subject like few others. It makes perfect sense for the life of a man so entwined in his work to be told through representations of his work. The animation is gorgeous, backed beautifully by Seth’s melancholy nasal voice to elicit genuine emotion from the audience. Yet, the movie is just as playful as it is powerful, with Chamberland’s probing camera gliding joyously through Seth’s little world and constant oddball digressions guaranteeing that the doc is never predictable.

Seth’s Dominion is both a strong introduction to the unique artist for newcomers and a work of adoring fan service for the previously converted. Not an easy task, but one that Chamberland executes effortlessly. If nothing else, the movie serves an amusing contrast to the legendary documentary Crumb, with the particularly Canadian Seth delving into his work with equal autobiographical audacity, just without all the horrendous emotional damage of Robert Crumb.



Friday, April 24 8:45pm @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
Saturday, April 25, 1:00pm @ Royal Cinema
Thursday, April 30, 9:45pm @ Scotiabank Theatre 8

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