Review in MOVE Magazine

‘Zeilinski’ peels back labels

“Zielinski” is a look into the odd, conspiracy-driven world of published author and journalist John Zielinski, who currently resides in Columbia. Working for more than three years on the documentary, Chase Thompson and Ryan Walker not only document Zielinski’s life, but create a profound yet unresolved sense of discontinuity for the audience.

Quickly, the audience learns how brilliantly intelligent and incredibly talented Zielinski is in his field, as an author and photographer. We are introduced to various books he’s written. We see images from his documentation of the Amish, his home state Iowa, and most notably, his gritty portrait of Martin Luther King Jr.

Despite these accomplishments, we see Zielinski’s ultimate mission is to investigate and uncover the corruption and cover-ups in the system. It is this mission that has led to Zielinski being both the most blacklisted author and politically exiled in his home-state of Iowa. He makes allegations on a variety of issues from child sex trafficking to drug lords, but is never able to actually create solid proof or evidence. These allegations have caused many to dismiss Zielinski and label him a crazy, loon. Although, Thompson and Walker never officially give their opinion on Zielinski’s claims, they show us that Zielinski is in-fact not crazy.

Thompson and Walker explained at a Q&A after the film that though Zielinski wanted the documentary to be an expose on uncovering these conspiracies in the political system, they decided to focus on Zielinski and his life because they found it to be more interesting. This decision gives the audience a chance to look past the labels Zielinski has obtained over the years.

The film does not have a narrator, but rather the story of Zielinski is told through various interviews and clips of Zielinski himself. To get an even deeper look into Zielinski’s life, Thompson and Walker interview the people that have been closest to Zielinski. The flow of these different perspectives created a unique intimacy. We meet his past co-workers and his family, including his ex-wife who admits that Zielinski is one of the most talented men she knows.

Through this insight, Thomson and Walker were effectively able to capture the raw, intensity of Zielinski, which evoked a strong, emotion of empathy. But Thompson and Walker don’t try to connect the overall story of Zielinski’s life; they leave that for the audience to decide.

Posted to MOVE Movies by Alexis Hitt at 2:11 p.m., March 5, 2011