As the 21st Annual New Orleans Film Festival kicks off this weekend, I am continuing a series of articles that briefly highlights one individual independent film that will screen during the festival.
Ever wonder what happened to all those internet sensations, viral video stars, and those made famous by YouTube? The “Charlie bit my finger” kids, the “Chocolate Rain” singer, the “Star Wars Kid”, and most recently, Antoine Dodson’s “Hide ya kids. Cause they rapin’ everybody!”
In 2005, a Winnebago salesman named Jack Rebney became a massive internet phenomenon, unbeknownst to him, when the hilarious and profane outtakes from his 20-year old commercial shoot were posted on YouTube. Watch the original outtakes clip on YouTube here (warning: persistent adult language).
Over two decades later, filmmaker Ben Steinbauer set out to explore the video’s origin and locate the mysterious man it helped make famous. The result was the wildly entertaining new documentary Winnebago Man. The film was co-written and edited by Malcolm Pullinger.
Official Plot Synopsis: Winnebago Man reveals the story of Jack Rebney, an unlikely folk hero whose outrageously funny outbursts were caught on tape during the making of a Winnebago sales video in 1988. The outtakes reel mysteriously circulated on dubbed VHS tapes for years before turning into a full-blown Internet phenomenon on YouTube in 2005.
Today, the “Winnebago Man” has been seen by more than 20 million people worldwide and is regarded as one of the first and funniest viral videos. Filmmaker Ben Steinbauer sets out on the seemingly impossible task of tracking down Rebney, who has been living a hermit-like existence on a mountain top, and until recently, had no idea that the outtakes even existed.
Rebney turns out to be more intelligent, sharp-tongued and charismatic than anyone could have imagined—in short, he’s a star. Winnebago Man is a smart, funny and unexpectedly poignant tale of one man’s response to unintended celebrity.
I love documentary films, especially ones dealing with a quirky, yet poignant subject matter. This particular documentary reminds of the absolutely wonderful The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007) – another film that examines an obscure minor celebrity and pop culture phenomenon. King of Kong is one of my favorite docs of all-time and Winnebago Man has the potential to join it atop the list.
The film premiered earlier this year at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, TX to rave reviews. The documentary has gone on to win numerous awards at various other film festivals around North America.
And now, Winnebago Man comes to the New Orleans Film Festival. The film will be screened three times over the next week – Friday, October 15th at 7:30 pm; Sunday, October 17th at 7:15 pm; and Tuesday, October 19th at 7 pm.
All three showings will take place at the Chalmette Movies.
Individual film tickets can be purchased for $7 (New Orleans Film Society members) and $9 (Non-Members). Tickets are available at the Chalmette Movies box office.
Festival All-Access Laminates can also be purchased for $150 (NOFS members) and $200 (Non-Members) or Six-Film Passes are available for $35 (NOFS members) and $45 (Non-Members).
Watch the trailer for the film posted to the top left of this article.
Read my four-part article on the New Orleans Film Festival here and my Festival update here.
If you enjoyed this story, please subscribe and read Chris’s other articles here: echoflam.com/indie-movie-in-new-orleans/chris-henson