Being Ginger: Film Review

This entertaining and enlightening doc also serves as a highly effective cinematic personal ad.

Scott P. Harris' very personal documentary examines societal prejudices toward redheads.

Scott P. Harris is clearly working out some deep personal issues in his debut documentary feature examining the prejudices, often of the romantic variety, toward redheads. Examining the social issues raised while simultaneously serving as an opportunity for the red-haired director to find a girlfriend, Being Ginger is an admittedly slight but entertaining effort that could find appeal beyond its obvious target audience.

The U.S.-born Harris, now living in Edinburgh, Scotland, initially created the film as a university project. After a short introduction employing crude animation describing his troubled childhood, he’s seen in a park stopping random women and asking them whether they could be attracted to a redheaded man. Although most of the women express reservations -- "They’re nerdy, unless they’re Prince Harry,” one comments -- he lucks out in an encounter with a comely blonde who references such actors as Damien Lewis and Jesse Tyler Ferguson and who, when pressed, admits that she finds her interviewer attractive. He later pursues her on Facebook and asks her out, and even films their first date.

But when the relationship seems to fizzle out as soon as it begins, the insecure Harris -- who professes to not finding redheads attractive himself, although he explains that it’s probably a manifestation of his own self-loathing -- pursues other avenues. These include a dating website geared exclusively to “gingers,” whose less-than-inspiring tagline is “Every year 4.2 million gingers become single, lonely, sad.”

The film’s highlight is his trip to a redhead festival held in Holland where attendees are naturally gifted with free samples of sunscreen. There, for the first time in his life, he finds himself attracted to a beautiful redheaded woman, although once again his romantic hopes are dashed.

That the film works to the extent it does is due in large part to the filmmaker’s ingratiating, amusingly self-deprecating personality and his emotional honesty in detailing the lingering emotional trauma induced by childhood bullying. In one poignant scene, he interviews via Skype a former teacher who not only condoned the treatment, but once threatened in front of the entire class to string him up “like a pinata” if he didn’t stop his whining about it.

It all culminates with a happy ending in which Harris comes to terms with his freckle-faced condition and even manages to find romance. Let’s just hope that the film doesn’t inspire legions of similarly relationship-challenged folks to pick up a camera in their efforts to find love.

Opens April 4 (Garden Thieves Pictures)

Production: Wisselvallig Films

Director-producer: Scott P. Harris

Director of photography: Lou McLoughlan

Editors: Scott P. Harris, Ben McKinstrie

Composer: Callum Barton

Not rated, 69 minutes