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In 1971, Jack and Betty Gannon had a car full of family, and the idyllic beach town of Cape May, New Jersey as their intended destination, when a train on a disused line barrelled towards them, ultimately striking the car. Directed by Jack and Betty’s son, the director James P Gannon, the documentary Deerwoods Deathtrap captures the couple’s return ‘to the scene of the crime’ for the first time since that fateful day. Shooting on Kodak Super 8 film to lend the piece a folksy, nostalgic look, Gannon captures his parents as they try to recall exactly how it all happened. Although the outcome was nearly tragic, Gannon mines a healthy dose of dry humour from the ordeal, letting the camera roll as his parents disagree over the details of the crash, and placing them in a series of dramatic reenactments. The resulting film makes for a charming – and, from the safe distance of 50 years, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny – reflection on family, memory and the sometimes razor-thin margin between comedy and tragedy.
Director: James P Gannon
Producers: James D Cochran, April Gannon, Matt Ferrin, Joseph K Gannon, Chris Cipriano
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