Have you ever been just randomly walking around your city and seen one of the enigmatic Toynbee Idea tiles in the middle of the street?  Maybe you’ve seen this one in Washington, DC, or this one in Pittsburgh, or any of the hundreds more mysterious plaques that span the east coast and midwest of the US and even extend into various parts of South America.

What does it mean?





Well, if you’re like me, then you probably think that either a) this is really freakin’ weird, or b) this is really freakin’ cool, or c) all of the above.  And if you’re like Justin Duerr, the guy in that picture up there, then you are probably thinking: d) I’m going to devote my life to figuring this out.  And that’s what he did.

Last week Durham held it’s acclaimed Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, where dozens of fantastic documentaries are presented to eager audiences over the 4-day schedule.  I usually drop into one or two movies each year, hoping to hit a few that look super interesting, and this year, we hit the jackpot.  On Saturday, we got last-minute-line tickets to see Resurrect Dead, a Kickstarter-funded Sundance-winning documentary about the mysterious Toynbee Tiles.  The feature-length film had us captivated from minute one as the crew – basically three dudes and an amateur film-maker with a camera, set out to discover the origin of these tiles.  Their surreal journey took them through all kinds of you-can’t-make-this-whodunit-shit-up clues, including tracking down leads on microfiche, short wave radio, and pounding the pavement in blue-collar Philadelphia neighborhoods.

I don’t want to spoil the mystery for you, but needless to say, this doc was a great story and was really well-told, especially since this was Jon Foy’s first ever crack at making a movie, much less shooting, editing, and composing the soundtrack (all done without any prior experience while self-funding by cleaning houses)…

If you like an urban mystery with more than a touch of nerdiness (and you do, trust me), check out Resurrect Dead.  Looks like there may be another round of screenings later in the summer, so look out for those.