Coming to VOD today, Friday, March 6: MY OWN MAN
David Sampliner’s personal exploration of manhood made its bow at Tribeca last year. It has gone on to screen at the San Francisco and Boston Jewish fests, Big Eddy, and LA’s ArcLight Documentary series. The doc now comes to VOD exclusively via Netflix.
At 40, filmmaker David Sampliner learns he will soon become a father to a baby boy, a prospect that should fill him with pride and joy, but instead brings on an existential crisis, reawakening a long-seated anxiety about his own sense of masculinity. He’s decidedly not an alpha male, as unequivocally confirmed by not only his close male friends – who self-assuredly are – but by his siblings and parents. David’s father, in particular, seems to serve as the filmmaker’s foil: A matter-of-fact, no-nonsense 1950s style father, a retired, successful surgeon who is in excellent shape despite his advanced age, in contrast to his more sensitive, empathic, and slightly out-of-shape son, a definite follower, not a leader. David’s highly personal film follows his at times strained and cringe-worthy efforts to get in touch with his masculinity – participating in mens’ groups, taking up hunting, working a voice coach, and hitting the gym – while also trying to understand just why his supposed lack of traditionally “manly” traits upsets him so much. While suffering from the typical excesses of first-person docs, including a surfeit of narration and a general self-indulgence, Sampliner’s film does speak to our society’s self-imposed stunted sense of masculinity and its limits, and how these in turn do damage to men’s conception of self.