Coming to theatres today, Friday, August 16:
WHAT YOU GONNA DO WHEN THE WORLD’S ON FIRE?
Toronto, New York, CPH:DOX, Sheffield, Busan, London, Rotterdam, Göteborg, Mar del Plata, Valdivia, Vancouver, Vilnius, DocPoint, Docs Against Gravity, Munich
An exploration of race in the American South.
Following his focus on marginalized white Louisianans in THE OTHER SIDE, Italian director Roberto Minervini turns his attention to African American subjects, weaving together four separate strands and once again employing his usual hybridized storytelling, where subjects at times may be performing versions of themselves for his camera. The most impactful of the storylines centers on Judy Hill, a woman who has pushed past addiction to try to start over, opening a bar that functions as a de facto community gathering place, only to see gentrification snatch it back from her. Quieter but also effective are the scenes devoted to the protective relationship between brothers Ronaldo and Titus, as well as their mother, worried about the fate of young black men in American society. Had Minervini stopped there, and further fleshed out these characters, the project might have been more compelling as a whole. Instead, the film brings in two lesser threads that are either jarringly incorporated or feel like an afterthought – the former, a look at the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense, and its leader Krystal Muhammad; the latter, underdeveloped, almost throwaway scenes with the Mardi Gras Indians. Given that the four strands never intersect, the film already has an uneven and not wholly satisfying feel, but the incorporation of these additional strands unfortunately exacerbate the disconnect and draw the project out to an unnecessary length without providing any additional revelations.