Tuesday, 28 December 2010
In Complete World
This movie is a gem. When it ends, one wishes it hadn’t.
It's a deep reflection about society (American in this case but some of the questions are so general that it could be any) presented in the most simple way: by going out on the streets of New York City and randomly picking passers by to answer a fixed set of interview questions, such as: “Are you satisfied?”, “Do you make enough money?”, “Do you feel responsible for the government you get?”, “Do you feel responsible for what your government does?”, “Do you feel personally responsible for the war in Iraq?”, “Is there equal opportunity in America?”, “Is global warming happening? Do you feel responsible for it?”, and more existential ones like “What are you most scared of?” or “Are you optimistic about the future?” among others. The filming was done through all of 2007, and part of 2008 and clearly the filming was completed before the election of Obama in November of 2008. It would be kind of intersting to see how Americans' percepcion of their society have changed since then.
In Complete World is described as:
“a feature-length documentary made up of street interviews done throughout New York City. Mixing political questions (Are we responsible for the government we get?) with more broadly existential ones (Do you feel you have control over your life?), the film centers on the tension between individual and collective responsibility. The film can be seen as a user’s manual for citizenship in the 21st century, as well as a glimpse into the opinions and self-perceptions of a diverse group of Americans. It is a testament to the people of New York City in this new millennium, who freely offer up thoughtful, provocative and at times tender revelations to a complete stranger, just because she asked.”
Shelly Silver’s work is a very challenging and really provokes one to think about some very fundamental issues concerning who we are in this world, at this time. It tracks that intersection between I and us (society), that acknowledgement, sometimes begrudging, sometimes joyful, sometimes even disgusting, that all of us are a part of it. With questions that bridge the personal and the political, she gets to the issue of responsibility. She does not make viewers of the movie reach some definite conclusions, instead if this she is putting the viewers into the position of building/making sense of the film by themselves. I think most of the viewers (according to the hopes of director) enter the position of the interviewee, asking himself or herself what they would answer, while they are watching the film. What's important instead of apathy or indifference, people seem to have a great desire to speak and be heard, to have a voice. They answering each question seriously, cleverly, sometimes with humour, sometimes with sadness. Some come out and thank the interviewer at the end for this opportunity to speak and to be heard. Silver’s interviewees always have answers, they never struggle, show no sense of fearing the camera as an object, shying away from it, but they are of course very much conscious of it. This film leaves a very optimistic feelings but one has to remember that NYC is a great city of many thoughtful people, but unfortunately it is not representative of the whole United States.
photos and info: www.shellysilver.com