Coming to HBO tomorrow, Thursday, October 17:
LIBERTY: MOTHER OF EXILES
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato
HBO (October 2019)
A tribute to the Statue of Liberty.
133 years ago, the iconic Statue of Liberty was dedicated on NYC’s Bedloe’s Island, later renamed Liberty Island. Directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato trace the statue’s history, led to a large extent by its unofficial “godmother,” fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, who has long felt a personal connection to Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi masterwork and here helps in fundraising efforts for a Liberty Island museum. In addition to following von Furstenberg’s efforts, the film revisits the origins of the statue as a joint US/French monument to US independence, while also profiling ordinary individuals who have connections to Liberty Island or the statue, from magician David Copperfield, who famously made the statue “disappear,” and restoration workers to factory workers who produce souvenir replicas and activists who have used the site to protest the current administrations regressive immigration policies. While by its nature an episodic survey – and a positive one at that, eliding some more complex and inconvenient history – the film succeeds in forming a satisfying whole in its focus on the symbolic importance of the Statue of Liberty, and serves as a worthwhile reminder of how welcoming America should be.