Local filmmaker Damon Ristau debuts his latest project, The Bus, tonight at 7:30 at the Wilma. Local audiences should already be familiar with Ristau's work, from his years as festival director for the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and his feature film, The Best Bar in America. It's why tonight's screening is already generating buzz.
When Jerry Garcia died, Volkswagen ran an ad in Rolling Stone magazine of a VW bus with a tear falling from the left front headlight. Rarely has a car manufacturer understood its cultish connection to customers as Volkswagen did with its iconic bus. The thing was unlike anything else on the road, and it found a devoted following among hippies, artists, vagabonds and loners.
The Bus captures this endearing bond during a delightful drive down memory lane. Local filmmaker Damon Ristau includes rare archival footage, vintage advertisements, pop-culture clips ranging from Easy Rider to Cars, and interviews with modern-day enthusiasts to show how the goofy-looking and simply designed bus became a cultural icon. The material is rich, and the storytelling finds a perfect balance between straightforward history and irreverence. The Bus runs much like the bus itself.