NOTE: I watched this film via a digital screener from the comfort my own home. Before hitting the multiplex, please consider the health risks involved with participating in group gatherings at this time. Take very good care of yourselves – I wanna see you on the other side.
“’Slavery is not our fault, we didn’t do it, we didn’t cause it, it’s not our responsibility.‘ But it IS our shared history…. What are we gonna do about it?”
Story: Former ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jeffery Robinson held a talk at Brodway’s Town Hall theater on June 19th, 2018. That Juneteenth presentation was filmed in its entirety, and is shown along with interviews with individuals from all walks of life, including but not limited to “States Rights” defenders, activists, historians, and individuals who survived the most horrific acts of violence done to their families. Buckle up; this one’s gonna grab you.
Genre I’d put it in: Powerful Documentaries That Educate And Fascinate
Release Date: 2022
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Documentary uses historical information and footage, as well as tons of facts anyone can verify
Gotta say: This documentary is 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. That means that every single reviewer who posted to RT thought this documentary was a good one. And Are is definitely worth of that praise. This is required viewing for anyone who wants to dive into the issues we face as a nation regarding race and racism. This documentary is going to blow your mind and break your heart in equal measure. I don’t care how much you know or have known up until this point; you will walk away from our with even more rattling around in your brain.
Directors Emily and Sarah Kunstler bring together Robinson’s talk, his interviews, and so much more, into a cohesive and stunning portrait of our nation’s history, and current events. What I truly love about this documentary is the way Robinson and the Kunstlers don’t try to “shove an agenda”. They simply let people, images, and facts speak for themselves. Yes, every so often Robinson will say something along the lines of “let that sink in”. But this documentary comes at its viewers with a genuine hope of educating. As Robinson – who graduated from Marquette University and then went on to Harvard Law School says, “If I [someone who had a top-notch education] don’t know this, I wonder how many other people don’t know?” I can tell you straight up, I didn’t know, or only understood vague bits of, at least 80% of what this doc lays down.
Are‘s collection of facts, history, anecdotes paint an all too clear picture of how racism in America built America, and how that racism is affecting us still. The real science of unconscious bias. The dichotomy (at least among many white people) of being financially stable while black. Harvard’s Implicit Association Test. Then there’s the history. The Tulsa Riot, which he more accurately calls the Tulsa Massacre, which I think should actually be the new vernacular for this particular moment in United States history. Enslaved child builders, who left their fingerprints in bricks and mortar of Charlston, SC. I could go on and on and on, but I’d rather you watch for yourself. I can’t do all of Richardson’s work justice. I can just say that it’s an avalanche of knowledge, laid at viewers feet, in the hope that we’ll pick it up and run with it.
Are is a documentary that can be watched many, many times. Because it’s so full of information you’ll need repeat viewings to truly absorb it all. And because it’s a truly amazing piece of documentary filmmaking. Informative and interesting, Are is sure to be in film schools as an example of how to do documentaries right. I can only hope it’ll be added to other school curriculums as well.
If you walk away from this documentary learning nothing… You’re either an incredible historian and I want to buy you dinner just to listen to you speak on this, or you were willfully not paying attention and need to watch this again. Full stop. I will not be taking questions. Just go watch, and learn.
#Protip: Want more? Of course you do. Have at it, and learn.