By Liam Woodworth-Cook
Brilliance is an unfolding of beauty; a disturbing of expectations. Leave the expectations with your coat at the door. A portrait is supposed to be singular, a snapshot. This is a narrative, an eye to a realm; a focus point in the drop of sweat. Elongate, separate time by removing the watch. To watch is to become the basketball that thunders, to breathe the pounding breaths of sneakers halting in a turn.
This is a journey to Alabama: Hale County.
Through night and day. Birth, death and joy. We are on the road of reimagination. This is revolution, reworking of media, casting questions we are drawn to the fishing boat. We bob in the waters enthralled; in awe, in silence, in a portrait that places us as occupants of a family. This is a portrait of perception. “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” is a poem. It is a visceral portrayal of truths that are far removed from Maine’s winter depths. Its depth is heat, summer storms and cotton fields. The Black Belt South.
What you witness is life. A depiction removed from the canon of documentary films. There is no option to not be engaged. The observer is not a pretender. This movie is art, and this art follows the sun around two young men, around a beauty of blackness, of life, in the throes of being. This film is a creature-awaking conversation. It leaves the unsaid and speaks in silence and in vocal howls. It arcs, it sets, it shakes and unsettles. It beams joy. It beams a toddler’s play. “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” elegantly beams.
RaMell Ross has curated black life in the precious everyday. It follows the small moments that leap. The question the film’s website asks is, “How does one express the reality of individuals whose public image, lives, and humanity originate in exploitation?” Tenderly, exquisitely are my answers. Provokingly. It is a portrayal of southern landscape and life, of the intimate and the dreams. This is not your ordinary documentary, this is a shifting lens. A shift of perception and of film. If you are reading this thinking of the vagueness of a review; it is because this is art to be seen and
experienced, for the depth of realness, love and being.
When “Hale County” was playing at the Space Gallery on the 23rd of October, RaMell Ross was there to present his film, stating after the showing, “I’m not a filmmaker.” This is the hook of an artist. RaMell is indeed a photographer, and this is cinema as captured by such. He came to Hale County to teach, and through that met Daniel and Quincy. Bringing the camera to their lives he was a peer, knowing them for three years before filming. RaMell got 13,000 hours of footage in a five-year timespan, edited to 76 minutes of a time warp to display a work of tremendous height and questioning. This film is a flower blooming in millisecond focus; except it is not a single flower but an entire garden, leaving one in amazement.
Categories: Arts & Culture