directed by Jenny Abel & Jeffrey Hockett | 82 minutes | 2005 | documentary
The director of the 1970’s cult films Is There Sex After Death? and The Faking of the President infuriated conservatives and made a name for himself several times over with amazing media stunts that are just ridiculous enough to be believable – especially to a media that feeds on salacious, far-fetched stories such as Abel’s mock-moral crusade Citizens Against Breastfeeding which enraged people with its ridiculous “stop the naughty nipple” campaign in the late 1990s and his Society for Indecency to Naked Animals which advocated the clothing of pets so as to not offend in the 1960’s (their slogan: “a nude horse is a rude horse”). Abel managed to scam his way onto every television talk show as an advocate of creative panhandling with his School for Beggars, in protest of Ronald Reagan’s social budget cuts. Across five decades, all of Abels hoaxes have taken a socially conscious aim at asinine morality and puritanical paranoia in America.
Abel Raises Cain is Jenny Abel’s film, Alan Abel’s daughter. It is as much a biography of her father as it is an exploration of her unusual family life. What was it like to be raised by a man who always had a hoax up his sleeve, and whose tricks always brought the media vultures swirling? Jenny was ostensibly in on the jokes, but, as we see in this oddly poignant film, it was never easy being raised by the one throwing the punch lines.
Praise for Abel Raises Cain:
“A lively, bittersweet portrait of the master prankster’s career” – New York Press
“Like a reverse Jon Stewart, Abel has been creating fake news…preying on mainstream media’s insatiable thirst for the lurid, the perverse, and the wacky” – PBS POV Blog
“A rather brilliant portrayal of a true American original who probably hasn’t gotten his due” – POPMATTERS