Hands on a Hard Body

Aside from some unnecessarily repetitious sound bites, this is a perfect documentary on a subject that might not seem rich in meaning: an annual days-long contest sponsored by a Nissan dealer in Longview, Texas, in which entrants compete for a new pickup by trying to keep one hand on the body of the truck longer than anyone else. (They’re allowed only short breaks to sit down, eat, or go to the bathroom.) Charmingly owning up to his active role in shaping some of the gripping suspense and infectious humor, director-editor S.R. Bindler alternates precontest interviews with coverage of the 1995 competition as he presents nearly a dozen sympathetic figures whose motives for enduring this grueling test are as philosophical as the insights they gain during it. Fine Arts.

–Lisa Alspector

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.