Nicholas Clifford’s We’ve All Been There has been marred by claims of plagiarism after the social media lynch mob found striking narrative similarities between this year’s Tropfest winning entry and the saccharine film clip for “The Chain
of Love” by U.S. country musician Clay Walker. Walker’s song, adapted from a short story of the same name written by Ronnie Barnett and Rory Lee Feek for feelgood anthology series Chicken Soup For The [Blank] Soul (on this occasion the country one, whatever that means), was released in 2000 and details the fortunate interactions between a waitress, a working class saint, and the nice old moneybags who bridges them. Sound familiar? The film, save a jarring Pulp Fiction style time shuffle which does
little to serve the narrative, details the exact same storyline
but with better production values and no annoying country music.
But naysayers take note, they did so legally.
As evidenced by self-help forum chatter and your aunt’s annoying email chains circa Hotmail, the story has existed in various online permutations for years now and is credited by Clifford as “based on the short story What Goes Around Comes Around by Anon”, since, according to the filmmaker’s lawyers, the exact source could not be identified and the story was public domain.
A line which was recently reiterated by Tropfest who told the Sydney Morning Herald today that the film, like all submissions, underwent a vetting process: “it’s ridiculous to think that honest and open adaptation is under
scrutiny for plagiarism. Both Tropfest and the filmmakers went through a
Tropfest, in other words, found that both were adapted from the same anonymous source material. One was just more upfront about it.
In fact, about the only thing you could accuse this of is being wildly unimaginative, and that, I guess, is something worth getting angry about.