Full disclosure: I once worked at Riverwest Radio, the station run out of the store of the film’s title, “Riverwest Film & Video.” So I couldn’t possibly review this documentary with something even close to unbiased opinion.
There is no real plot to speak of in “Riverwest Film & Video,” with the film consisting of a series of vignettes that involve people at the store going about the business of running it, supporting it, or just talking to the camera itself. It certainly suits the subject, a place much loved by locals, but by rights shouldn’t exist. True, Riverwest Film & Video has a variety of film equipment to rent, but it also still offers DVDs to rent, which can’t be a viable business model.
The radio station has a variety of diverse programmng, with employees discussing everything from pop culture to personal philosophies, which can be quite wide and varied. For my experience, I can say that the communal feel of the place and those who frequent it is pretty accurate. Certainly this was made through the perspective of an insider, as no one seems uncomfortable with the camera around. Those unfamiliar may be a little bit lost, but director Emir Cakaroz isn’t even trying to hide the fact that he’s not making this film for the uninitiated.
Where “Riverwest Film & Video does stumble is at the end, where the doc casually brings up the station’s efforts to make the leap from Internet radio to FM radio. In any other film, this could’ve served as a focal point for the rest of the movie to revolve around, if Cakaroz were interested in such things. He does an excellent job capturing a space, but a little more information could’ve added rather than detracted from the experience.
Riverwest Film & Video is an affectionate portrait of a beloved unconventional local institution that is a bit too lacking in the conventional.