'Inheritance' meets 'Game of Thrones' in HBO docuseries 'Ren Faire' – Ent

legacy meet game of thrones In the documentary series Rain Fairwhich premieres Sunday on HBO

Lance Oppenheim directs a three-parter about the fight to take over the reins of the Texas Renaissance Festival, the world's largest renaissance festival. Outdoor festivals of this ilk — in case you're unfamiliar — feature performers dressed in medieval garb, flutes and strum lyres tinkling with instruments, fire eaters devouring flames and fans devouring giant turkey drumsticks and fistfuls of kettle corn.

Logan Roy – or, if you prefer, King Aeris II – is the aged George Cullum, founder and ruler of the Texas Ren Faire, in this scene. He's a colorful character, to say the least, and if you doubt that, consider how he describes himself on his website: “George Cullum is a healthy 6'2″, 173 lbs., 86-year-old sexually active Caucasian male entrepreneur.”

George Cullum in 'Rain Fair'

George Cullum in 'Rain Fair'

HBO

“He has power, as the elected mayor of the town he was in,” noted a synopsis for the series. “He has glory, as the undisputed employer and self-proclaimed ruler of thousands. He has vast wealth as the majority shareholder of the festival. Now, he is ready to give it all up and spend the last years of his life looking for a romantic partner. But before he retires, George will ultimately choose among his longtime employees to take his crown.

Among those hoping to take over are general manager Jeffrey Baldwin, “Lord of Corn” Louis Migliaccio and elephant trainer Darla Smith. Check out the trailer below.

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Darren Aronofsky and Lance Oppenheim

Darren Aronofsky and Lance Oppenheim at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival

Matthew Carey

Oppenheim spoke about his documentary series at the Independent Film Festival Boston earlier this month. “What we thought was a comedy at first, which seemed a little absurd at first — the universe, the landscape — turned out to be a tragedy,” he said in a Q&A. “I think we all know a version of these guys. We all know a Jeff, we all know a George, we all know a Louie. … Everyone (knew) they were a part of a game, and they basically wanted someone around to document it.”

'Rain Fair' poster

HBO

Oppenheim said he discussed with cinematographer Nat Hartseller before filming began how to answer the key question: “How do we immerse the audience in the world? How do we take the fantastical elements, the mythic stuff — how do we bring it to be like a back-office drama where, essentially, it can be a business?”

At age 28, Oppenheim has directed eight shorts, a documentary series, and two feature documentaries, including Spermworld, which premiered this year and is now streaming on Hulu (logline: “Three men enter the new Wild West of baby-making — online forums where sperm donors connect with hopeful parents — but find themselves exchanging more than just genetic material”). Darren Aronofsky made his directorial debut, Some kind of heaven, which premiered to critical acclaim at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. That film centers on The Villages, “Florida's friendliest active-adult 55+ retirement community,” where applied positivity masks something dark going on.

George Cullum in 'Rain Fair'

Simple lies that crown the head. Did they have sunglasses in medieval times?

HBO

David Gauvey Herbert, an executive producer Rain Fair who brought the project to Oppenheim, assessed the filmmaker's writing in a Boston Q&A, observing, “He's obsessed with people who get caught up in worlds of their own making.”

In the world of Texas Renaissance festival owner George Cullum, he is sovereign and he makes the decisions – with occasional help from celestial beings.

“If he talked to an angel, which happened,” Oppenheim noted, “it could get someone fired.”

Is Cullum closer to Shakespeare's jolly rake Falstaff, or to the mad King Lear? The trailer below may provide some clues.

YouTube poster

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