RaMell Ross’s HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING may be the most radical film ever nominated for an Oscar. The photographer/filmmaker’s subjective, conceptually rigorous portrait of a community of African Americans — some of whom were his students — in Hale County, Alabama, was made from 1300 hours of intensely personal footage and edited into a meditation on life, the performance of identity and the legacies-on-legacies of representation of black and brown people onscreen. With such disparate influences as southern photography, Alan Ginsberg’s “Howl” and Godfrey Reggio’s “Qatsi” trilogy, the film is a singular, remarkably moving vision that both revels in abstraction and depicts the rhythms of life as it is actually lived. With the unexpected success of HALE COUNTY, Ross has become one of the most important voices of a documentary film community trying to find new ways of communicating the experiences of the world. The film will be preceded by Ross’ Sundance short film EASTER SNAP (2019) and will be followed by an extended conversation between the filmmaker and Robert Greene.
Photo by Maya Krinsky. Courtesy of Sundance Institue