TIFF 2013: Burt’s Buzz Review

Burt's Buzz
Burt’s Buzz


Director: Jody Shapiro

You’ve likely had that moment. Crawling through the Shoppers Drug Mart aisle, scanning the shelves for where the toothpaste begins. Eventually your eyes cross the rack of Burt’s Bees products, the massive yellow skin-care care brand, marked with the face of a hirsute woodsman. Maybe not each time, but once you wondered, “Huh, I wonder if that bearded Burt is a real dude?”


That’s a question Shapiro’s doc will answer easily. The answers to any follow-up questions are stranger, and more jagged than you could imagine.

“No one ever accused me of being ambitious,” says the New York born, once photojournalist Burt Shavitz, who in a bohemian turnaround ditched the city for the simple life, taking up bee keeping for nothing more than craft fair pocket change winnings. Burt became the logo you know due to Roxanne Quimby (whose son speaks in the doc but not herself), who escalated the operation worldwide, while removing Shavitz’ influence on the company.

While Buzz could have pushed itself to be more creatively ambitious with its style, the film and its subject are generally fascinating. Shavitz has become a living mascot, benefiting from it and not entirely unwittingly, but he’s not infatuated with a life as complicated as his has become. It’s a story of conflicts between commercialism and the images it co-opts, and the weird truth behind the 21st century’s most recognized hermit. (Zack Kotzer)


Sunday, September 8th, Isabel Bader Theatre, 3:45pm


Monday, September 9th, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 9:00am

Friday, September 13th, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 12:00pm

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