Live From SXSW's Screening Room

FLAG WARS

D: Linda Goode Bryant and Laura Poitras.

Documentary Feature Competition There are no good guys and bad guys in Flag Wars, only competing interpretations of the American Dream. The documentary shows what happens when well-off gay whites look at the decaying mansions of a working-class neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, and see economic opportunity, while the African-Americans living there just see home. Filmmakers Bryant and Poitras take a strict vérité approach to the story. They don't even use interviews, unless they are shooting over the shoulder of a local TV crew. While this can be confusing, especially considering the number of characters involved, the technique keeps individuals from speaking for whole communities, which consequently emerge with their internal divisions and complexity intact. The documentarians' ability to depict the residents' struggles, which range from flying a rainbow flag over the statehouse to keeping a house heated on a monthly budget of $501, was clearly heightened by their decision to live for a year in the neighborhood in which they shot. (Flag Wars won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature.) (CC, 3/13, 7:30pm)

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