Friday, August 22, 2008

Thank You New York Times, Maybe

Today's review of Dare Not Walk Alone in the New York Times was both encouraging and disappointing. The line we should all take from the review is: Deserves to be seen.

Those of you who have helped us over the past four years to work against the odds and get this film made and distributed should take heart that a. the film is playing in New York City (an incredible achievement for an independent film about a controversial topic made with virtually no budget); b. it has so far racked up an impressive string of positive reviews, with great scores on RottenTomatoes and IMDB.

What you should not do is pay any mind to the negative comments in this NYT review, which merely echo remarks made by other, equally narrow-minded reviewers on the other coast. When critics say the movie is "muddled" or "haphazard" they are clearly missing the point.

Dare Not Walk Alone
is a different kind of civil rights film, in more ways than one. Just as the film takes you closer to the gritty, street-level reality of the civil rights struggle than other films, it also exposes you to the muddfled and haphazard reality of life today in a community where that struggle was waged.

And if there is one thing everyone can agree on when it comes to the issue of race and rights today it is this: it's messy. So why would a film about this topic be neat and tidy and nicely linear, like every other potted history of a movement that is still working itself out in American society today?

Thankfully, a lot of people who see the film do get the point, and see the skill of Jeremy Dean's direction, particularly those who experience the film in a theater. As we've said before, most movie reviews are not written by people who watch the film in a cinema side-by-side with their fellow citizens. When you do that, when you have that expewrience, you get what the film accomplishes, and why it is, and had to be, so different from the linear, date-by-date history lessons that we are accustomed to seeing on this topic.

So we say "See it!" For as even the New York Times says: It deserves to be seen.


Iris Star Chamberlain said...

I first heard through the NYTimes article as well, although when I went to the website I decided they were probably just being pompous and regardless, I have to find a way to see this movie! How to do that in Seattle I'm not sure, but I bet if I'm patient and I wait a bit... :)

Stephen Cobb said...

Iris -- Pompous is a good word. When a film critic makes the comment "so muddled it’s almost unwatchable" after thousands have people have watched it, some of them more than once, at festivals and schools and colleges, that comment says more about the critic than the film; especially when the same critic says "deserves to be seen" (how muddled is that!)

Sadly that comment will cost the film audience share, something that really hurts when you've spent four years trying to show people something they haven't seen before, something that you believe needs to be seen.

But thankfully the film also gets support from many quarters, such as folks like you who take the time to pass on some encouragement. It is much appreciated.

(BTW, the best shot for a screening in Seattle is to get a college or library or museum or similar entity to host it--the details can then be worked out--email info[at] for more details.