An inspiring and intimate portrait of a place and its people, Hale County This Morning, This Evening looks at the lives of two young African American men from rural Alabama over the course of five years. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The directorial debut of award-winning photographer RaMell Ross, the film premieres on Independent Lens Monday, February 11, 2019, 10:00-11:30 PM ET (check local listings) on PBS.
Daniel Collins attends college in search of opportunity while Quincy Bryant becomes a father to an energetic son in this open-ended, poetic film without a traditional narrative. Distilling life to its essence, the film invites the audience to experience the mundane and the monumental, birth and death, the quotidian and the sublime. These moments combine to communicate the region’s deep culture and provide glimpses of the complex ways the African American community’s collective image is integrated into America’s visual imagination.
In the history of documentary, Hale County is a mythical place. It’s where Walker Evans and James Agee chronicled the lives of poor white sharecropping families in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men in the 1930s. But today Hale County is different. While the current residents subsist with comparable economic hardship, the racial demographics of the region have shifted. The forgotten, isolated famous men in Hale County are now people of color. Largely disenfranchised, the African American population lives with unequal distribution of, and access to, resources.
Hale County This Morning, This Evening allows the viewer an emotive impression of the historic South, trumpeting the beauty of life and the consequences of the social construction of race, while simultaneously offering a testament to dreaming despite the odds.
“We’re excited to present a powerful new voice in documentary film, RaMell Ross,” said Lois Vossen, Independent Lens executive producer. “A photographer turned filmmaker, RaMell breaks form and uses subtle surprises to present a community, without agenda. With remarkable access to his subjects and his unconventional style he has created a film that gently gives us the time and space needed to wash away our judgments and recognize the deeply familiar moments of ordinary life. So much of what we see on television is sensationalized or politicized; the love and patience in RaMell’s beautifully crafted portrait of a small town is quietly revolutionary.”