This documentary from South America pivots around a truly irresistible central hook; filmmaker Emilio Silva Torres sets out to unravel the real-life enigma behind a mysterious cult work of Uruguayan cinema, titled An Act of Violence in a Young Journalist. Like Troll 2, Tommy Wiseau's The Room, or the work of Neil Breen, the film's preposterous script, bad acting and all-around amateur style has inspired a thriving network of fans devoted to its strange allure. Tantalisingly, despite its fervent fanbase, next to nothing is known about its creator, a man called Manuel Lamas. Armed with only the handful of names listed in the credits, the powers of Google, and a Buenos Aires phonebook, Torres embarks on a mission to find the man behind this cult phenomenon.
As clues begin to slot into place, the investigation turns sinister; is there a reason that nobody seems to know who this man is, or was? Despite revolving around a film shot and distributed on VHS over 30 years ago, Straight to VHS is a film which feels very current in its exploration of the filmmaking process and the cult of the director. As a filmmaker himself, Torres is the perfect guide, in tune to the power of cinema, but also attentive to the ways in which film culture can enable and foster harmful attitudes and behaviours.