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RaMell Ross’ extraordinary documentary, HALE COUNTY, THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING is both a deeply moving examination of seemingly ordinary African-American people living in a small town in Alabama, and an accessible example of experimental filmmaking at its most aesthetically assured. When I spoke with Ross on November 23, 2018, I asked him about that, as well as how he found himself in Hale County, and his own issues with time that are transmuted into the idiom of his film. We started, though, if he was keeping track of how many awards his film had already won, and this was before it was nominated for an Oscar™.
Time and space coalesce as they are telescoped and a sped up, simultaneously setting the characters Ross follows in a place outside our universe, and undeniably rooted in our shared experience, finding common ground and the particular truths of what it means to be African-American in contemporary society.
Ross distilled 1300 hours of footage of joys and sorrows into a work that transcends the definition of documentary.