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French-born, Nicaraguan-based artist Jean Marc Calvet recounts a life story as dramatic and colorful as his intense paintings, in Brit helmer Dominic Allan's crisply made docu "Calvet."

With: Jean Marc Calvet. (French, Spanish, English dialogue)

French-born, Nicaraguan-based artist Jean Marc Calvet recounts a life story as dramatic and colorful as his intense paintings, in Brit helmer Dominic Allan’s crisply made docu “Calvet.” Already well-travelled since its premiere at the Sheffield docu fest, pic should continue to rack up air miles with trips to further fests wherever there’s interest in charismatic characters whose stories have a happy ending. An ancillary afterlife, especially as fodder for niche cable stations, looks assured.

A natural raconteur who talks with machine-gun rapidity in both French and Spanish, Calvet acts as guide on a trip to revisit his old haunts. Born in the South of France, he was a junkie runaway and rent-boy who eventually became a crooked vice cop. Work as a bodyguard brought him to Miami to work for a Mafioso, whom Calvet ripped off in order to fund a drug binge in Costa Rica before he finally found a healthier addiction — to painting. Now a successful artist, Calvet returns to France to look for the son he left behind, leading to a touching conclusion. Nice use of music and time-lapse lensing adds a glossy sheen.


Costa Rica-France-U.S.-Nicaragua-U.K.

Production: A Dominic Allen & Nicholas Allan, Channel 4 Britdoc Foundation, Evolutions, Palma Pro Audio, One Hand Clapping Post, Firewalk Films, Les Films du Tambour de Soie production. (International sales: Cat & Docs, Paris.) Produced by Dominic Allan. Executive producers, Nicholas Allan, Paul Raphael, Tom Roberts, Maxyne Franklin, Beadie Finzi, Jess Search, Alexandre Cornu, Muriel Sorbo, Flore Cosquer, Christine Tomas, Stephanie Cattiaux, Celine Lafontaine. Directed by Dominic Allan.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Dewald Aukema; editor, Paul Carlin; music, Edith Progue. Reviewed on DVD, Hoveton, U.K., Aug. 29, 2011. (In Sheffield Documentary, Edinburgh, Locarno, Montreal World film festivals.) Running time: 83 MIN.

With: With: Jean Marc Calvet. (French, Spanish, English dialogue)

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