Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Silverdocs Update: God Provides in the New York Times

One of the shorts I reviewed from Silverdocs 2007 was just mentioned in a New York Times article on films about Hurricane Katrina. I have to say, I'm fairly surprised God Provides, a nine minute film which the Silverdocs program described as "In Katrina's aftermath, an exploration of faith and loss in Louisiana," rated inclusion in the article (though I wonder if its inclusion was the result of a Google search rather than actually seeing the film). It wasn't a bad film by any means, but it didn't convincingly convey either the lyric poetry or the gritty realism that seemed to be its goal. Maybe if I had seen it all by itself it would have made a better impression.

Unfortunately for God Provides, it was shown at Silverdocs with some of the best shorts in the festival. A Son’s Sacrifice by Yoni Brook conveyed its message more poignantly and more visually than God Provides - if you want gritty realism, goat slaughtering is definitely one way to go. Alternatively, Orishas are Our Saints by John Kane and Paradise Drift by Martin Hansen were beautiful poem-like films - both achieving the art that God Provides attempted to attain. In the middle, The Days and the Hours by John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson conveyed both political message and stunning beauty. In the context of these films it almost seemed that God Provides was a failed attempt to exploit the subject matter, which I'm sure is not what the filmmakers intended.

I included my transcription of the Q & A with the directors at the end of my review of the films. There's a lot from Brian Cassidy, who directed God Provides with Melanie Shatzky. But his comments seem like post hoc rationalization for a film that just doesn't quite work.

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