This film is almost the definition of lyrical. Rather than following a tight narrative, it spends times with a small group of folks as they go about their lives. No grand statements, just personal moments whose contexts provide insight. And some ridiculous cinematography. The shot of the smoke and sunlight moving through the trees was mesmerizing.
A stunning photo book come to life, but I wonder if would have benefitted from stasis. As a film, I didn’t want a narrative so much as some sort of ground to land on. The text, which couldn’t decide if it wanted to be poetry or context, may have been useful for that or more visually playful.
What could have been an art project or a fly on the wall slice of life or a piece of campaigning journalism or a personal reminiscence is rather wonderfully transmuted into being all of these these things simultaneously. The film takes many hundreds of hours of footage shot over many years and offers a quintessence: moments which illustrate so much more and into which back stories and futures can be read.
I appreciated the defamiliarization of almost every little mundane action here. The long takes had especial power for me. I very quickly felt intimate with each character in every scene, there was so much life bursting through the fourth wall here. Occassionally I found the some of the historical references/instructive/messaging heavy handed and unnecessary as the film implied it all without these cutaways.
Like recent example "Fire at the Sea", Hale County is a superb fly on wall achievement in social documentary, creating a powerful mix of bliss and melancholia with some incredible highs. Those highs aren't always there though and sometimes the film just flails, but given how mercifully short it is and how good the camera work, sound, editing and subject are, it more than makes up for its few shortcomings.
a beautiful and transcendent portrait of time and place and those who fill it. there is imagery in this that I still think of months after seeing it. editing is excellent as well, perfectly paced. was surprised and ecstatic this actually scored a well deserved academy nomination... didn't win of course.
Like a dream experiencing life. Filmed with a photographer's eye but a filmmaker's sense of time. In particular, the shot of the moon fading to the sunrise was sublime. Though an outsider to the community, everyone is filmed with warmth and familiarity. A true document of a people, in a place, at a time. Expands the possibilities of documentary film-making. Inspiring!
Ramell Ross delivers a highly immersive, poetic, sensory and profoundly touching film. It is also a beautiful homage to south american black communities and a powerful depiction of human growth from child life's innocence to old age. It is a great example of a documentary film made by an artist who really has a caring and respectful presence with his subjects. The editing is brilliant too. Absolutely amazing film.
Q&A with Ross following the screening helped me understand this is a photographer's film that can't be reduced to language, which explains why I was so impressed with the editing. An excellent first film, courageous for rejecting most of the genre's usual forms and expectations.
SFIFF 2018. Symphonic sound design that overlays the soundtrack from one scene onto others, stealthy shifts from particular-->universal with organic elements of the scene (cuts from drops of sweat to drops of rain, an infant's burial to a doomed bumblebee), and a multitude of oblique manners of framing, working toward and sustaining a tension between intimacy and distance, pathos and beauty. (Like, stealth Malick.)