The Panola Project
Rachel DeCruz, Jeremy S. Levine
The power of persuasion
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many tales of despair, death and delinquency: “99% of COVID-19 cases are totally harmless.; If somebody wants to be tested right now, they’ll be able to be tested,” Donald Trump.
The Liar in Chief has likely never heard of Panola, Alabama (population 350), where it’s a 39-mile trip to a municipality big enough to offer vaccines to the general population. Many folks don’t have cars.
General Store owner/operator Dorothy Oliver knows that “everybody gotta get it [the vaccine]” or many will fall ill and some die.
Fortunately, if she can round up at least 40 community members, a team of nurses will happily jab one and all.
With superb phone technique, the determined widow cajoles as many as she can until the magic number is reached. Over the span of the morning hours with a noon deadline, citizens participate in the drive-through or walk-in clinic, even as the rain storm reflects the seriousness of their efforts.
Also at one with the “actions” is the music, ranging from moody trumpet tracks to upbeat dance charts (original music engagingly provided by Jermaine “Mainframe” Fletcher).
If only the world had more Olivers and far less deniers (or wilfull blindness), how many more of us would still be here to celebrate our lives so much longer. JWR
Imagine a Body
What is gender?
Even as far-right conservatives in the U.S. (and elsewhere) seem to be pushing back the clock on humanity (overturning Roe v. Wade; same-sex marriage likely next on the bigoted chopping block), O’Keefe has highlighted the voice of “beings” who have used injections of testosterone in order to feel like their real selves in their transformed bodies.
Not everything goes to plan (“My periods came back”), but the honesty and sense of humour (“ass hair?”) of the interviewees overflow with truth and honesty that those who would send them immediately off to perpetual purgatory ought to, but won’t take the time to hear. JWR
The Beautiful Colors of Jeremy Sicile-Kira
“Every dream I have is in color”
A fascinating contemporary portrait of the artist as a young man, who uses paint and brushes to succinctly communicate with the rest of us.
Being autistic, Sicile-Kira brings extra meaning to the well-known film adage, “show it don’t tell it” as his verbal “communication” can only happen through a stylized keyboard. Like Beethoven’s deafness, his magnificent art goes ahead no matter what.
A viewing will be highly rewarding to anyone who knows the power of beautiful images and ideas. JWR
An original idea is born
Zlokovic (aided and abetted by Rachel Sennott starring as a fashion designer), brings a whole new meaning to body of work. JWR
The Berry Pickers
The economics of cheap labour
- Imagine living a life of poverty in northeastern Thailand and being tempted by untold riches for 2 months’ work picking berries in Sweden.
- Imagine signing a contract committing the employer to pay the minimum wage but knowing that’s just for legal show; you’ll be paid by the kilo.
- Imagine the Swedish employers delighting in the fact that their seasonal workers (not being from the EU) are income tax/benefits free.
- Imagine the Thais taking out loans (frequently from their employment agency) to travel 8,000 kms, hoping that they will make more than enough in Sweden to pay them back and still have enough to “buy a tractor”.
- Imagine a season (2019) when the yields are not as high as expected due to climate change and forest fires.
Like so many seasonal workers coming to the Niagara Region for summer planting and harvest, it continues to be sad to see how one country’s poverty is another’s gain.
It’s a film that ought to be seen, but most of the cheap labour beneficiaries won’t get the point. JWR