Abel Raises Cain (2004)
In the odd world of media hoaxers and merry pranksters, Alan Abel ranks as an unappreciated superstar. He spent his life under the radar, mocking conservative mores and putting on the media. Abel’s daughter, filmmaker Jenny Abel, offers an unflinchingly intimate portrait of her eccentric father (codirected with Jeff Hockett). Following her 80-year-old dad around with a video camera as he embarks on his latest prank (a campaign to ban breast-feeding), Jenny explores the loving and unique relationship he has shared with his wife Jeanne for the last 42 years, while also chronicling the highlights of his mad career: the Society for Indecency to Animals (“A nude horse is a rude horse”); not to mention Euthanasia Cruises, the KKK Symphony Orchestra and Omar’s School for Panhandling. Wonderful archival footage reveals a deadpan con man who took particular delight in infuriating television talk-show icons like Phil Donahue. While some have questioned Abel’s true motivation (revolutionary anarchist or media menace?), Jenny Abel focuses on the humor behind the scams, as well as the underlying message: Don’t believe everything the media tells you.
(2005 SF International Film Festival)