Hale County This Morning, This Evening Screen 6 articles

Hale County This Morning, This Evening


Hale County This Morning, This Evening Poster
  • In the past, Sundance would have slotted Hale County in the New Frontier section, an experimental sidebar that is now devoted to VR and other advanced—i.e., corporate-funded—technologies. Instead this elliptical, intimate, precisely observed movie played in the documentary section, where it opened audiences’ eyes to a depiction of black families, and in particular of young black men, almost never seen in either documentary or fiction.

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    Film Comment: Nicolas Rapold
    March 03, 2018 | March/April 2018 Issue (p. 8)

    Ross brings us bodily close to his newfound neighbors on this return trip to the South, which reaches its peak in scenes of hanging out and togetherness. "I've believed that straying from structured acts of seeing can produce the strongest connection with an audience," Ross writes in his director's statement, and the rhetoric matches the results. This is something more than point of view, this or that shot in the crook of an arm or hovering around someone's back—call it point of being.

  • While there’s something universal about that ambition and those experiences, there’s also something radical and political about pursuing it in a community that’s predominantly black and poor—a community that’s thus only ever seen in terms of its impoverishment and disenfranchisement.

  • It’s not every day that you witness a new cinematic language being born, but watching RaMell Ross’s evocatively titled documentary Hale County, This Morning, This Evening qualifies. . . . The finished work, a half decade in the making, is informed by his deep familiarity with its characters, which might be one reason why he has the confidence to abandon traditional narrative structures and strike out on his own lyrical path.

  • Ross sets up his camera to look at tree branches and smoke coming from behind, finds a compelling image and sets about finding different ways to abstract it; the sequence goes full experimental, not before Ross explaining what he’s doing to an understandably curious civilian passing by. These are his images, playing with historical context while creating their own connotations and attempting to see familiar territory afresh.

  • It’s too simplistic to say that Evans and Agee were willfully blind; they lived when they lived, and saw what they saw. . . . Nonetheless, there’s a degree to which Ross’s film—shot over five years and boasting the supremely talented Thai writer-director Apichatpong Weerasethakul as a Creative Advisor—feels like an intended corrective, or at least a complicating companion piece to Evans and Agee’s efforts.

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