VonPatricia OberheidemiBedatri D. Choudhury
oTribeca Festival 2022He was finally back in person and there were lots of hugs, parties and crowds to make up for lost time. As a FOMO machine, it's pretty good; there is always plenty to do. Film, of course, but also games, television, immersive installations and projects, audio, live performances, and a daily round of panels.
Tribeca's large selection of documentaries (70 films) included many celebrity works and performances, as well as films sure to appeal to the obsessed and sensation seeker. Films were mixed together that left us thoughtful, imaginative and wanting more.
Violet Du Feng and Zhao Qing were true festival treasures for me.hidden letters, which will be on the wayindependent lenssoy 2023.hidden lettersIt is an extraordinary film: masterfully conceived, strategically thought out and of great quality.
This is Nushu, a writing system once kept secret by and for generations of Chinese women who, empowered by sisterhood, survived lives of disenfranchisement and oppression. Nushu was launched recently and the current government wants to celebrate and promote it. Feng follows three women: two millennials learning Nushu and her mentor, who learned it when it was still a secret system. Millennial Women were raised by parents who learned the importance of women's rights and full participation during and after the Cultural Revolution. Her oldest mentor never received an education, endured a forced marriage, and found solace for her grief in Nushu. Her experience shows the contradictions in advertising design.
Nushu is a secret tool of the Brotherhood, a tool to confront and endure oppression. As such, it can easily be exploited to strengthen the patriarchy. And indeed, advertising efforts that are mostly run by men seem to be doing just that. A businessman designs men's clothing using the Nushu script; another designs a pair of Nushu-decorated chopsticks that conveniently become nunchucks. A man praises Nushu for her ability to increase women's obedience, acceptance, and resilience. When the women introduce themselves, the men whistle and qualify. Women, on the other hand, show their own internalization of the patriarchy. A millennial woman is now divorced after aborting a female fetus at six months because her husband wanted a boy. The other becomes engaged to a progressive-looking man until he dismisses his interest in Nushu as a mere "hobby" that they can't afford to start a family with.
Feng and Qing give us an unspoken but highly nuanced look at the conflicting meanings of Nushu today, from the perspective of the women they follow. They capture some extraordinarily revealing moments that need no analysis. The participants allow them to grasp their vulnerability, their insecurity, their doubts.
Feng, who has taken the helm, does not take sides or demonize anyone for imposing patriarchy. Instead, he shows how the systems amplify it and include everyone in participation, even those who try to resist. Between episodes, he offers still lifes with an emotional aroma of landscapes and meditative moments in which he enjoys the poetry of Nushu and invokes the power of Nushu to soothe troubled souls.
In the past, Feng has accomplished the seemingly impossible: He brought an independent documentary to Chinese theaters (and eventually to Chinese state television). That happensplease remember Methat she produced. In fact, her kind observation of China's complicated elderly care system led to a change in policy. In this film, she hopes to navigate two very different but equally coded distribution systems: the Chinese and the American. The film, made with the support of ITVS, has a future in American public broadcasting, which has standards and rules for acceptable rates. The film is now also being reviewed in the Chinese market. I can't even imagine three-dimensional chess, but the result is a film that adds complexity and nuance without compromising the viewer's experience.
i was not the only onehidden letterssuper fan. In a Tribeca Talks session, Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan, two venerable feminist leaders, and poet Sarah Kay sang their praises. Morgan celebrated her art and Steinem celebrated her goal of promoting the Brotherhood. Kay praised the power of poetry to create connections. Feng talked about how the film's engagement campaign would encourage women to use the medium of their choice to say what hasn't been said and share it with sisters around the world.
Bedatri D. Choudhury
In the documentary ecosystem, we often (as we should) ask the question: who will tell whose story? And this year we have questioned the ethics, ownership and responsibility of more films than we would like. I'm happy with Nausheen Dadabhoysa church service, there's a new documentary you can quote and say, "This is how you do it."
A "beautiful tapestry of personal stories, vérité, archival footage, and home video," the film begins to challenge a national history that has always demonized and crushed Muslim identity. He does this not to teach American audiences to see Muslims as human beings, but to infuse every frame of the film with a powerful feeling of Muslim joy, fear, and sadness. It represents the humanity of a community as it is, not adapted to a vision that can only process knowledge when seasoned with stereotypes.
an act, which opens on October 17footholdAs part of its 35th season, it puts a face on the statistics we're sick of, and it does so with an empathy that can only come from the active collaboration and dedication to storytelling of a community that consistently uses the tools to make their own. . The documentation was denied Record and tell his own stories. During the film's production, Dadabhoy conducted a nationwide search for home videos of Muslim American families, many of which find a place in the film. In doing so, he has created an archive that challenges the ideas and images we are given of what an American looks and behaves like.
Dadabhoy creates a document of the American Muslim without being overwhelmed by diasporic nostalgia or a self-defeating narrative that evokes sympathy from audiences. With strong political activist protagonists, he redraws America's historical telos and highlights the enduring Islamophobia that has shaped much of its modern history.
an actIt is both an act of recovery and empowerment while celebrating the relentless resilience of America's Muslim communities. We've all written and talked about the value of "being seen," and I'm glad the film is "seeing" on public television, hopefully in many living rooms, given the violence that all our silence has condoned and encouraged.
The United States now lives a very different reality than when I saw the Cynthia Lowen moviebattlefieldin Tribeca: Dobbs' decision was still just a "leak." With great reluctance, Lowen's film engages in lengthy conversations with "pro-life" people (mostly white), some of whom are college students, whose vision revolves around a "post-Roe" America where abortion" It is not only illegal, but unthinkable" is ".
The film is something of a coup in that it has tremendous access to "pro-life" activists, both Christian and supposedly "atheist, feminist democrats", and exposes their strategies, agendas and beliefs; and it remains decidedly pro-choice.
battlefieldIt's an irritating watch how it links the Trump presidency, the Catholic Church, the Republican agenda, and the twisted way feminism is (mis)interpreted and (mis)adjusted. But it's a strategic film that leaves us on a path to the 'other side' that we probably need to be aware of, especially as we organize in the field today, but that we don't want to be a part of. Lowen takes us through a chronological timeline to show us the constant and tireless work "activists" are involved in, introduces us to organizations like Students for Life of America, and takes us to the National Pro-Life Summit. While we've heard from some abortion activists and health experts, the film is like a walk through the belly of the animal, and we want to keep our eyes and ears closed. But a grotesque need to know more guides us.
The film ends on a rallying note, but I was wondering if its understated, patient, and reserved overall tone qualifies as a strong enough rallying cry. I wish the movie would make a little more noise just because of the "spot a heartbeat" chants. Protect a heartbeat.
PENNSYLVANIA:Several Tribeca films have demonstrated the power of storytelling to rewrite historical narratives. Geeta Gandbhir and Sam PollardsLowndes County and the road to black powernot only revives, but electrifies a long-hidden suffrage story in the rural county outside of Montgomery, Alabama. There, under the Voting Act, in a county that was 80% black, not a single black man was registered to vote, not by chance. The film uses never-before-seen archival photos and video, combined with invaluable interviews with elders and experts, as well as archival interviews, to tell how a local suffrage movement drew the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). With the support of local SNCC leadership, amid death threats, black voters rallied not only to vote, but also to run for and ultimately win public office, first under the banner of the Black Panther Party and then the Democratic Party. But as the film's final moments soberly remind us, the battle has only just begun. Civil rights activist Ruby Sales has the last word when she argues that American democracy has always been white supremacist with no place for black power: "Have we not seriously thought about what it means to join a house on fire?"
Other historical films also formulate and rewrite historical narratives. pratibha parmarsMy name is Andreatakes Andrea Dworkin into the history of white American feminism. Dworkin has long been viewed as a pleasure-seeking fighter who waged war on pornography. The film takes up her central claim that women should be able to lead lives as full human beings. The film revives her charismatic combination of anger and humor and shows that she is not afraid to be flashy and impatient. johanna hamilton and yoruba richenThe rebellious life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, soon to air on Peacock, captures the complexities of a tireless advocate for criminal justice reform, reproductive rights, and respect. And it's based on the words of Mrs. Parks.
Jesse Toro Corto and Laura TomaselliLakota Nation v. USAspeaks directly to non-Indians. The film highlights the central spiritual role of the Black Hills for the indigenous peoples of the region and carefully depicts, in a calm tone strategically at odds with terrifying information, the cycles of persecution and resistance as the Lakota use the judicial system to make assert your rights. the earth. This story further shows how the court system worked to violate treaty rights and sabotage their land claims. Which brings us to the Standing Rock protests in support of water quality for all. “This country only got better when people challenged the powers that be,” says one activist, a line that appeared in other revisionist history movies in Tribeca this year.
Each of these films was based on a comprehensive investigative study, with most acknowledging their gratitude to academics for the extensive research that allows the documentarians to create a narrative that is not only compelling but also believable.
BDC:"I am standing on the most significant remnant of the transatlantic slave trade and there is nothing here to suggest it...how would you know if no one tells you or reminds you?" Dominic Aubrey DeVerea story of bones, as we see her strolling around the island of Saint Helena, home to Napoleon's tomb and an unmarked mass burial of some 9,000 formerly enslaved Africans. She came to the island as an environmental officer for a proposed airport project that was shelved due to a lack of security. A burial project of 325 human remains recovered by archaeologists was also registered.
As van Neel fights for a respectful burial of these remains on an island where a white settler's grave serves as a major tourist attraction, he exposes old fault lines of race and slavery that run through British history. As van Neel's story finds resonance in the work of American activist Peggy King Jorde (who was instrumental in building the African Burial Ground National Monument at 290 Broadway in New York), audiences begin to see connections between the history of colonialism and slavery around the world. world - across continents, cultures and histories.A storyit seeks to correct the way we learn and teach history, and the way we place white colonial histories above our own (as people of color). The film is a resistance to this reductionist history and an insistence on telling our stories, and this (argues the film) begins with respect for the dead, for our ancestors, for their place in history, which our books teach us, was denied.
I also really appreciate the way that communities, particularly communities of color, use the documentary format to focus on themselves and examine how they themselves end up replicating the power structures they are undermining.
So Yun Um's directorial debutliquor store to dreamtalks about intergenerational “liquor store babies”: people born to Korean parents who run liquor stores in predominantly black and brown neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Throughout the film, the filmmaker talks with her father and his friend Danny (who runs a liquor store that he is turning into a community center) as they explore a "generation gap" around career choices, but also question the ubiquitous anti-blackness among Koreans. American people. She makes a connection to the murder of Latasha Harlins in 1991 and then to the 1992 riots that followed the acquittal of the LAPD officers who beat Rodney King and the subsequent looting of Korean businesses.liquor store to dreamSure, it moves away from the "model minority" trope that Asian Americans are reduced to, but it also creates space for community building: a coming together of communities of color resisting and fighting against white supremacy, a la that they all took away power.
prank call, by Byron Hurt, arises from his discomfort with the legacy of the BGLO (Black Greek Letter Organizations), an association from which he has gained a much-loved community, but which also makes him aware of the inhuman level of violence that those communities have. perpetrated, resulting in the psychological harm and deaths of hundreds of young men and women at universities across the country.
Hurt questions his own loyalty when talking to his frat brothers, both his contemporaries and those who came before and after him, and complicates notions of masculinity (particularly black masculinity) and the loyalty fraternities and their promises represent. It's painful to listen to the parents and relatives of people who have died in bullying rituals, but the film also provokes us to question the way we as a society view the concept of belonging. He asks: Why do we live in a society that doesn't allow people, especially young people of color, to feel like they belong without killing themselves?
PENNSYLVANIA:The broad discussion about ethics and values in documentary filmmaking, especially in a highly racialized society, was also reflected in Tribeca. In a town hall after the exhibition ofHe, the documentary participants described how the experience changed their lives forever, for better or worse. They asked for mental health support, a participating attorney, and resources to help them understand what they are getting themselves into.
In a Tribeca Talks session, Dr. Kameelah Rashad, executive producer ofHe, spoke kindly but clearly to filmmakers about the need to ask who is the best person to make a movie with. Too often, she said, minority stories have been misinterpreted by privileged storytellers. She challenged the filmmakers to ask themselves if they were the best people to tell a particular story. So my psychology training kicks in and I have to ask, what's in it for you?
rodrigo reyessamson and meelegantly addresses a well-known ethical challenge: how to deal with re-enactment without misleading the viewer. The film revives a decade of correspondence between Reyes and Samson, an undocumented prisoner for whom she served as a translator during his trial. Banned from interviewing him, Reyes hires a deputy (one of his relatives) who uses Samson's words. The viewer gradually understands the strategy and, in the process, understands Sanson's level of deprivation and abandonment. Also, throughout the film, Reyes and Samson discuss the nature of their relationship and openly show its implications for power.
Many Tribeca documentaries this year have been replete with snippets from music, TV, movies, newspapers and magazines. Historical films, biographies, current affairs, and cultural criticism use these copyrighted references. For example,The YouTube effect, Alex Winter's latest activist essay on technology issues, efficiently and accurately reveals the social and economic consequences of YouTube's extraordinary reach and opaque practices that drive regulation. The film clarifies his arguments with a series of clips taken from hot topics in the news.
The vast majority of uses in movies where clips are used liberally today fall under the fair use copyright doctrine, something that wasn't available to filmmakers before them.produced a consensus document on best practices in 2005(Full disclosure: Peter Jaszi and I helped them with this.) The document helped errors and omissions insurers understand the real risk, and they all now routinely insure for fair use. (However, celebrity movies often still rely on celebrity permissions.)
The impact isn't just on the budget, as filmmaker Stuart Samuels explains. For himThe Lost Weekend: A Love Story, co-produced with Even Brandstein and Richard Kaufman, recreates the lost story of John Lennon's 18-month romance with May Pang and restores Pang's perspective. She could not trust access to materials by Yoko Ono or others associated with the Beatles. "Without fair use, historical documents would be just another way of writing 'official history,'" she says. “This film shows how documentaries on pop culture topics can be just as historic as published works by pop culture scholars, historians, and critics. At a time when pop culture assets are copyright owned and controlled, independent and "unofficial" interpretations can disturb public and critical consciousness."
Kristy Guevara-FlanaganBody partsit also demonstrates the importance of fair use as a private anti-censorship tool. Well made, well argued, the film shows viewers the reality of creating intimate scenes in film and frames that discussion in an anti-patriarchal analysis. The film has a clear action agenda, including the need for privacy coordinators, clearer and more transparent contracts, and generally better working conditions. The film contains over 1,000 archival clips, almost all of which are heavily used. "We wouldn't have made this movie if we didn't have a strong sense beforehand of what fair use might be," producer Helen Hood Scheer told me. “We always knew we wanted to play with the archive: its patterns, tropes, and variations. And we wanted to make sure our film incorporated sometimes surprising juxtapositions over the decades." The filmmakers' most creative uses, beyond simple illustrations, were examined more closely to determine if the use was truly transformative.
Patricia Aufderheide is a professor at the American University School of Communication in Washington, D.C.
Bedatri D. Choudhury is editor-in-chief ofDocumentary filmMagazine.