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“HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING”
RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim



Director: RaMell Ross
Producers: Joslyn Barnes & RaMell Ross
Writers: RaMell Ross & Maya Krinsky
Cinematography: RaMell Ross
Editor: RaMell Ross
Composer: Scott Alario, Forest Kelley, and Alex Somers
Distributor: The Cinema Guild
Release Date: September 14, 2018
Run-time: 76 minutes


FILM SYNOPSIS: The dreams and everyday experiences of friends Daniel and Quincy, and also those of Boosie, the mother of Quincy’s children, are depicted as they go about their lives in Hale County, Alabama. Also explored is the idea of how the Southern African-American experience can be depicted on film.


In the same way that every art gallery has art that I may not be able to appreciate, so it goes with the Best Documentary Feature category. Especially when it comes to documentaries with very little narrative thread and long, stagnant shots filled with artsy composition or a nondescript action, my patience level completely falls off. “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” is one of those films. And for a feature that only runs for about an hour and fifteen minutes, the entire process feels like hours.

Taking a look at the African-American experience in a small town in Alabama, the attempt at a narrative was almost worse than just being a compilation of random shots. You’re dealt cards that often leave you wondering how it connects to the imagery you’re seeing, leaving you with more questions than answers. The fact that you can hear the director speaking in the background about things unrelated to said narrative feel like a patchwork quilt of ideas tossed together after the fact. It never felt like there was pre-planning for this film. Even so, sometimes films can be found in the editing room, but when you’re relying on the art of your composition to drive the film, you better make sure the editing matches that style. Here, it does not.

Once again, I’m reminded that “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” was passed up for a nomination for “Hale County This Morning, This Evening.” While the diverse subject matter is a nice inclusion, the film itself was at times almost unbearable to sit through while the Mister Rogers documentary at times had me in tears. To nominate “Hale County” over not just that film but ones like “Three Identical Strangers,” which carry highly produced feels to them comes off a pretty big injustice. But that’s the way the Documentary branch rolls, with “Jane” missing a nomination last year and “Blackfish” missing several years ago, despite being some of the best documentaries of those years. That being said, I would easily rank all four of the competing documentaries ahead of “Hale County.”


PREVIOUS NOMINATIONS

RaMELL ROSS
YEAR FILM AWARD CATEGORY

NONE


JOSLYN BARNES
YEAR FILM AWARD CATEGORY
2017 (90th) “Strong Island” Nominated Best Documentary Feature

SU KIM
YEAR FILM AWARD CATEGORY

NONE




SCREENER

VIEWED: Thursday, January 24th, 2019

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