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Presenting Princess Shaw 

Wednesday, Jun 1 2016
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Ido Haar's documentary Presenting Princess Shaw is joyous and uplifting, but also blurs the line between documentary and docudrama a great deal. Samantha Montgomery lives a hard life in New Orleans as a caregiver for the elderly; she also composes and sings songs a capella for her YouTube channel as Princess Shaw, and sings at empty open mics while auditioning for shows like The Voice. Quite unbeknownst to her, a man in Israel by the name of Ophir Kutiel has been mixing her vocals with other people's instrumental noodlings —found by YouTube searches such as "guitar improvisation" — to create fully orchestrated songs. Much of Presenting Princess Shaw follows Samantha and, to a lesser extent, Ophir, as they go about their lives, with the majority of active narration provided by Samantha's YouTube videos — and there are several scenes in which the odds of Haar having been present with a camera are unlikely at best, unless they were specifically staged. But whatever questions of documentary authenticity Presenting Princess Shaw raises, those who are grumpy about the casual use of the word "awesome" as a superlative might find their hearts melted by Samantha's mantra-like use of it. When she meets Ophir in person for the first time, hugs him, and says, "You're awesome!," it's the most real thing ever.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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