Part of Doctober.
Composed of intimate and unencumbered moments of people in a community, HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING allows the viewer an emotive impression of the historic South—trumpeting the beauty of life and consequences of the social construction of race, while simultaneously a testament to dreaming beyond culturally imposed expectations and limitations.
Photographer and filmmaker RaMell Ross employs the integrity of nonfiction filmmaking and the currency of stereotypical imagery to fill in the gaps between individual black male icons. HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING is a lyrical innovation to the form of portraiture that boldly ruptures racist aesthetic frameworks that have historically constricted the expression of African American men on film.
In the lives of protagonists Daniel and Quincy, quotidian moments and the surrounding southern landscape are given importance, drawing poetic comparisons between historical symbols and the African American banal. Images are woven together to replace narrative arc with visual movements. As Ross crafts an inspired tapestry made up of time, the human soul, history, environmental wonder, sociology, and cosmic phenomena, a new aesthetic framework emerges that offers a new way of seeing and experiencing the heat, and the hearts of people in the Black Belt region of the U.S. as well far beyond.
“...Unique in its aesthetic and innovative in its structure and narrative arc…. Ruptures conventional—and often stereotypical—depictions of black people to create an experience that is simple, complex and revelatory.” —Tre’vell Anderson, Los Angeles Times “Rapturously received at Sundance...HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING fashions an intimate, fragmented portrait of a predominantly black and poor community, placing an emphasis on experience rather than struggle.” —Akiva Gottleib, Variety “It’s not every day that you witness a new cinematic language being born…. By sticking to his impressionistic perspective, by fracturing his narrative, Ross achieves something genuinely poetic—a film whose very lightness is the key to its depth.” —Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice “Mr. Ross focuses on work, school, parenthood and other ordinary experiences, but his method is the opposite of prosaic. He glimpses arresting, at times almost hallucinatory beauty in the rural Alabama landscape, and finds nuances of emotion that grow in intensity over 75 heady minutes. The movie is framed by a bluntly political question—as the film’s website puts it, ‘How does one express the reality of individuals whose public image, lives and humanity originate in exploitation?’—that yields pure cinematic poetry.” —A.O. Scott, New York Times
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