2018 Milwaukee Film Festival – Review – HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING
As we wrap up our coverage of the 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival, we arrive at the winner of the competition program, HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING. HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING is a free flowing visual essay with virtually no narrative depicting the residents and environs of a rural Alabama county. Apichatpong Weerasethakul signed on as a creative consultant, so you know it’s not your ordinary run of the mill documentary.
Obviously when reviewing a film like HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING it requires an adjustment on what you are expecting. The film, directed by RaMell Ross, eschews traditional narratives and traditional images in favor of the moments in between narratives. A child running around an apartment happily. The sun transitioning through the sky. A skilled player honing his basketball skills during practice. There’s no three act structure here, only personal, intimate moments, captured exceedingly well.
The only real concession that it makes towards spelling out its goals to an audience is footage of a man in blackface. HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING aims to totally eschew those exploitative images, in favor of something real and natural. It’s aiming to be something like a modern equivalent of MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA capturing a community in total. Rural African-American communities get almost no coverage in mainstream cinema by its very existence HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING is treading new ground.
Obviously, this kind of non-narrative visual essay is not going to be for everyone. You either adapt to what it’s doing or you’re just cascaded with a parade of images. I found it always an interesting watch with outstanding cinematography. Something along the lines of KOYAANISQATSI with a more sociological bent. For ambition alone, it’s well worth seeing and makes a solid competition program winner.
The 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival is over, and this wraps up our coverage. You can keep an eye out for the 2019 edition of the Milwaukee Film Festival by checking in at Milwaukee Film’s website mkefilm.org. And who knows, perhaps we’ll find something to cover regarding Milwaukee Film’s programming in the intervening eleven months.