A film about five self-professed divinely inspired builders and their creations
A few years back, Louisiana natives Emilie Taylor and filmmaker Zack Godshall set out to document self-professed divinely inspired builders who have devoted their lives to creating some rather unusual structures. The result is the intriguing documentary God’s Architects, which profiles five of these mostly self-taught and highly passionate artists (four of whom are in the South). Like Shelby Ravellette, in Omaha, Arkansas, who has spent the last twenty years constructing a castle to fulfill a promise to his deceased daughter. Or Reverend H. D. Dennis in Vicksburg, Mississippi, a ninety-two-year-old WWII vet, who transformed his wife’s small grocery store along Highway 61 into a panorama of colorful towers and archways that look like something out of Alice in Wonderland.
The documentary, which won Godshall the 2009 Louisiana Filmmaker of the Year award at the New Orleans Film Festival, has just been released on DVD. You can also catch a screening at the Shaw Center for the Arts in Baton Rouge on January 27, and in various cities as part of the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers this spring.
So are these builders prophets? Eccentrics? The film leaves that up to the viewer. At any rate, they’re fascinating characters—quirky, surprising, sometimes way out there, but by the end, strangely endearing.