(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: FORWARD 13 is really a scattershot documentary going for breadth rather than depth in economic issues. It is stronger it pointing out issues than it is in recommending solutions. There are enough serious issues for several documentaries. Nominally the film is about the 2008 financial crash, but it pulls in wealth disparity, global warming, Super PACs, government corruption, and the list goes on. Patrick Lovell directs himself as he goes on a journey to find out where the United States is going economically and it does not look good. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10

Patrick Lovell once believed that he was living "the American Dream." He had a wife, a son, a good job, his own home, and financial security. Then came the 2008 financial crisis and he was left with just the wife and the son. At age 43 his job, his house, and his security were taken away. Particularly painfully, like ten million other people he had lost his house. What was he going to do? He had some experience making films and decided to go and document the vanishing of "the American Dream."

Lovell wants the viewer to know who he is and how unjust it is that people like him had the financial meltdown fall on him. He gives us a detailed look at who he is, information only tangentially relevant to the important issues of his film. He delays the getting to the point a bit too much talking about himself and giving us more than we really need to know. Lovell's plan was to travel across a large swath of the country and ask people how they were doing and what has happened to the American Dream. Certainly considering the number of people who were given a hard financial blow by the 2008 financial debacle, there would be more than enough material to put in his film.

The vagueness of the question has a good deal to do with many of the problems of this documentary. Asking that question is tantamount to simply asking, "What caused your money problems?" If he asks that question to a lot of different people it will bring up a lot of different issues. If an issue has any financial dimension it could be something Lovell would call "a betrayal of the American Dream." Lovell travels and documents what certainly appear to be injustices, but he gives very little solution to the problem beyond saying that people who were bad up to now have got to start behaving better. We are told at the end that he is starting a PAC to bring his grievances to legislators.

As we follow Lovell we are taken to an "Occupy Wall Street" rally. There he talks to people and particularly shows us those hand-made signs people carry. That is worth showing, but it does not lead to any single coherent message. It is just a lot of people individually yelling, "I'm mad as hell." Unfortunately, they cannot complete the thought with "And I'm not going to take it any more." The sad fact is that they are probably going to have to "take it." They do not have the political clout to be allowed to stop taking it. Lovell's answer seems in part to be to form his super-PAC to fight for restoring "the American Dream." Incidentally "the American Dream" is a vague term he assumes everybody understands and he never defines beyond what it meant in his case. The super-PAC may be the answer, but Lovell seems to have only vague ideas as to what it would do.

Lovell gives a rather superficial coverage of the various issues that people are angry about. We hear short explanations about the mortgage crisis, the bailout of the banks that the Government deemed to big to fail, the huge number of house foreclosures, and the Citizen's United Decision by the Supreme Court that gave corporations the rights of citizens and the right to compete with citizens in influencing legislators. The list of problems goes on and on to include that we are in the beginning of a new planetary mass extinction event.

Lovell's solution seems to start with the first step of just getting angry. No doubt he is right about that, but I would like to see a lot more of a plan than that and his super-PAC. The history of the 20th century shows that joining a political movement just because you are angry, not knowing the next step, can have some very negative and dangerous repercussions.

FORWARD 13 is a film that is no doubt heart-felt, but is very weak on solutions to the problems it presents to the viewer. If Lovell had only set forth a declaration of principles, we would at least have a better of idea of what his plans were. Unfocussed as the message of this film is, I cannot really endorse it beyond rating the film a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10. FORWARD 13 went to DVD and VOD on January 21, 2014. By the way, if Lovell ever explained the title of his film, I must have missed it.

Film Credits:

Lovell's web-site:

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2014 Mark R. Leeper