Billy the Kid

Backstory – in 2005,  New York talent scout Jennifer Venditti came to Maine to find extras for “Bugcrush,” a horror film to be made by Bowdoinham native/Mt. Ararat grad/fashion photographer Carter Smith (Instagram; Wikipedia). She came through the Mt. Ararat commons, found sophomore Billy Price, and cast him.

After the “Bugcrush” shooting was over, Venditti saw the possibility of making a cinéma vérité documentary just about Billy, and came back to Maine to film him for 8 days, in two separate trips. The film took the Best Documentary prize at SXSW in 2007, as well as prizes at Cinema Eye Honors, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Los Angeles Film Festival, and the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Reviews were generally very good (85 on Rotten Tomatoes) but the film was controversial. The Times said it was a “deceptively simple portrait of a shockingly self-aware and articulate young man” that treated Billy with “genuine affection and protectiveness”; Variety, however, called it an “appallingly callous act of exploitation.”

But they go, “You have to show people respect even if they treat you like garbage.” Of course, then I’m thinking, “Then the world is a total bleak.”

Billy keeps an active presence on Facebook.