Yesterday it was pouring rain for much of the day, and I was outside in a dollar-store poncho, directing high school students around. I also got to sit inside and watch two movies, so I guess it all works out.
I'll get to those in a mo. First, Sunday night's movie...
Rumble. I love a good music doc, and this one introduced me to some new voices, musicians of Native American ancestry. Charlie Patton, for example. Jesse Ed Davis, for another. Lots of other artists you may know about, like Mildred Bailey, Robbie Robertson, Buffy Ste Marie, Jimi Hendrix... and the guy who wrote the title song, Link Wray.
It was fun and full of good music, and it also showed that these Native artists had either hidden their heritage or had it ignored for years. It's certainly interesting to see how people understand their heritage, and pick one grandparent's culture over the others'. The director said afterward that there is basically another whole movie on the cutting-room floor, involving the Natives who blended in with the white folks and influenced country music. Perhaps they'll put that together later on!
Monday morning it was off to more Docs for Schools. I thought it would be foggy and then clear up, so off I went in a sweatshirt... it poured all day long.
The morning movie was Step, and you will hear more about that because it has been picked up by a major distributor and will be in theatres in the summer.
A new school for girls in Baltimore expects all their students to go to college. There is lots of talk of marks and GPAs and college and scholarship applications, but at the same time they are practising for a step dance competition. It was fun and rockin' and it wouldn't be a big, uplifting thing if there weren't (spoiler alert) some success involved. Good fun, but I have heard this story before...
Totally different vibe in the afternoon. We saw Dolores, about Dolores Huerta, the cofounder of the United Farm Workers. The film featured interviews with her and her children (she had 11) along with others who were on similar (and intersecting) social justice paths, like Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis. Like the artists in Rumble, she had that one "flaw" that has kept her story hidden: they were Native, she is a woman. We know about Cesar Chavez, but few have heard of her. She was instrumental in the union from the very beginning, organized the grape boycott in New York state, was seriously injured by police while protesting outside a campaign event for George HW Bush, and always carried on with such fortitude and devotion to her work.
The movie was made with the cooperation of Dolores and her family, and was full of archival photos and film. She had been interviewed and on the news many times over the years so we get to see her "as it happens" and not just in remembrances. Very, very good!
It was a tad off-putting to see these two movies together. Fifty years ago, Dolores let other people raise her children part of the time so she could work to better the lives of the poorest workers. She lived with them and was poor with them and in an interview from those days said that spending money on something like a spa day for herself would be just a waste of both time and money. The girls in Step seem to have money for hair and manicures while lamenting that there is no food, even for their youngest family members. Perhaps it is unfair of me to compare the "struggles" involved, but I am pretty sure that those Baltimore girls could learn a thing or two from Dolores Huerta.
Today, two more movies. I gave away a pair of tickets to a show last night because I just couldn't fit in a nighttime movie. I just won tickets to two more movies by retweeting stuff on twitter, so I am overwhelmed and giving things away left and right. Every year I do this....