Review: ‘Nuts!’

Hot Docs 2016

2 mins read

(USA, 79 min.)
Dir. Penny Lane
Programme: Nightvision (Toronto Premiere)


Nuts! is a thoroughly entertaining, inventive documentary about John R. Brinkley, a turn-of-the-20th century quack doctor who implanted goat testicles in patients to cure impotence. Not stopping there, he went on to build powerful radio stations and use his skills to create what was effectively the first infomercial.

Most admirable about Nuts! is its complex texture-–newspaper articles overlaid with animation done by different artists, using photos of the actual Brinkley biography as chapter markers-–that really bring the story to life in an innovative way. Penny Lane brings an academically provocative approach to her filmmaking style, which bodes well for inventive editing techniques. Lane writes on her Vimeo page, “… (Nuts!) uses an outlandish story as an opportunity to question how ‘truths’ can be invented by crafty storytellers and what responsibility nonfiction filmmakers have to reveal the tricks of their craft.” She’s equating documentary filmmakers with the quackery of John Brinkley and his story, which is based on a commissioned official biography of the man. For those that appreciate the meta-documentary, you’ll go nuts for Nuts!.

Nuts! screens:
-Monday, May 2 at Hart House at 9:45 PM
-Wednesday, May 4 at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 1:00 PM
-Saturday, May 7 at the Revue at 6:00 PM

Please visit the POV Hot Docs hub for more coverage on this year’s festival.

Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8. Visit for more information.’



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