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INDEPENDENT LENS: Hale County This Morning, This Evening

Quincy Bryant in "Hale County This Morning, This Evening."
Courtesy of RaMell Ross
Quincy Bryant in "Hale County This Morning, This Evening."

Airs Monday, Feb. 11, 2019 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Critically Acclaimed Film Offers a Richly Detailed Look at Life in Alabama’s Black Belt

"Pure cinematic poetry. . . poses a quietly radical challenge to assumptions about race, class and the aesthetics of filmmaking."A. O. Scott, The New York Times

An inspired 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.

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.

Daniel Collins in "Hale County This Morning, This Evening."
Courtesy of RaMell Ross
Daniel Collins in "Hale County This Morning, This Evening."

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.

The directorial debut of award-winning photographer RaMell Ross, the film premieres on INDEPENDENT LENS Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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.”

Storm from "Hale County This Morning, This Evening."
Courtesy of RaMell Ross
Storm from "Hale County This Morning, This Evening."

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This episode will be available for streaming on demand for a limited time after broadcast beginning Feb. 12, 2019. Extend your viewing window with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members ($60 yearly) using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.

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Produced, Directed, Filmed, Edited and Written by RaMell Ross. Producers: Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim. Co-Writer: Maya Krinsky. Edit Team: Robb Moss, Joslyn Barnes and Maya Krinsky. Creative Advisor: Apichatpong Weeresaethakul. Original music by Alex Somers, Scott Alario and Forest Kelley. Executive Producers: Danny Glover, Susan Rockefeller and Bertha Foundation. Executive Producer for INDEPENDENT LENS is Lois Vossen.

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