9th Annual Full Frame Doc Fest: Day 3

News & Politics
This post was written with Kevin Greer, co-founder of the Brooklyn Community High School of Communications, Arts and Media.

The Full Frame Class In America series gives play to films from as early as 1966 up to today, and each one seems as pertinent and timely as the next. It’s actually a bit troubling to think that the core issues forty years ago have not changed that much. Linda Goode Bryant asked the audience of the Class Symposium "would Martin Luther King feel this was worth his life?" So, is Bryant’s film "Flag Wars," 2003 Full Frame Film Festival award winner, as provocative and compelling as she was on the panel? Yep. Shown again this year, the film's poignancy rests in large part on the lens it holds up to the relatively privileged – but marginalized – gay community as it gentrifies an African American neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio. Despite their shared marginalization and shared space, the two communities find zero common ground. And while the black community shows its share of bigotries, it is the home-improvement set who, despite their ostensive liberalism, ultimately come off as the “have nots.” Hopefully at least some factions of the Full Frame audience saw themselves implicated. Vergueza agente.

More verguenza: the next time you find yourself mindlessly mumbling along with 50 Cent, or even faintly feel the urge to pop a cap in somebody’s ass, consider checking out Byron Hurt’s “Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs In On Manhood In Hip-Hop Culture” It’s is an insider’s exploration of the forces conspiring to produce legions of gun-toting wannabe pimps and gangstas. As an ex-college quarterback, Hurt has made a film that is in many ways an exploration of individual and collective self, however manufactured. Interviews with a range of rappers, from Chuck D to Busta Rhymes to Jadakiss reveal a variety of insights and evasions of the "problem." The main culprit here, however, seems to be The Man making the real big money at the top of the corporate media food chain. Needless to say, He’s not in the film, and most likely wouldn’t be interested — personally or financially.

Nor would He be interested in this film: Micah X. Peled’s moving “China Blue.” Everybody either strolled or took the shuttle bus over to the American Tobacco Campus in their faux-distressed bluejeans to witness the story of Jasmine, a sixteen-year-old girl from the Sichuan province on her migration to the manufacturing city of Shaxi, where she finds a nice, cushy entry-level sweatshop job cutting loose threads from Westerners’ jeans, for 6 cents an hour. It’s everything we already know about sweatshop labor but don’t like to think about: slave-like working conditions, interminable hours, cut-throat global competition, and on and on. But the sweet innocence of Jasmine’s friendships and basic human longings for family and a better life -- to say nothing of her poetic diary musings about attaining super kung fu powers and turning abusive factory managers into stone -- make the film surprisingly intimate. Towards the end of the film, Jasmine ponders why the people who she’s making the jeans for are so big and fat, and she smuggles a letter to her global counterparts into a pair of jeans. So check your pockets and check your head.

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