VIFF 2014: A Different Drummer

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By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Based on a 10-year study of eccentrics by Dr. David Weeks, John Zaritsky’s film profiles seven very interesting people and explores the concept of eccentricity.

Daniel Suelo hasn’t spent or earned a cent in over 14 years. He lives in caves, uses the town library as his office, and claims he is happier now and feels more secure than he ever did when he had money. Darla Shaw is an entertainer who seems to play dress up for a living. She received a PhD at 60 and is having the time of her life while waiting for someone to show her the rule book of how she’s supposed to act.


Gary Holloway takes people on unusual tours of San Francisco, collects tea tins, and hosts séances for his Martin Van Buren fan club. Inventor John Ward of the UK doesn’t care what others think, and if you tell him he can’t do something, he’ll build it anyway. One of his most prized possessions is his fully functional three-wheeled fire engine.

The duck lady of Vancouver, Laura-Kay Prophet, told her tragic story of being forced into homelessness and feeling like she was worthless. Her ducks got her through and she eventually started her charity Duck Soup. How about voting for England’s Monster Raving Looney Party? Lord Toby Jug carries on the legacy of party founder Screaming Lord Sutch.


Dr. Weeks found that eccentrics live longer, are more self-sufficient, want to make others happy, score higher on IQ tests, and have a great sense of humour. So maybe these folks have got it right. This documentary will get you thinking about what it means to be ‘normal.’

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