What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?: Racism and America
by Vittoria Scarpa
- Roberto Minervini gets to the root of the unresolved racial issues which continue to plague the US today in his new documentary in competition at Venice
After the Texan trilogy (The Passage [+see also:
film profile], Low Tide [+see also:
film profile], Stop the Pounding Heart [+see also:
film profile]) and Louisiana [+see also:
interview: Roberto Minervini
film profile], Roberto Minervini continues his exploration of themes and characters from the deepest depths of America in What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? [+see also:
film profile], selected to compete in the 75th Venice International Film Festival. Shot in black and white, with the help of his faithful Spanish DoP, Diego Romero Suarez-Llanos, the film is a reflection on racism in America, but it is also an intimate portrayal of a community. In the summer of 2017, while the entire nation is reeling from a series of incidents involving the brutal killing of young Africans by the police, this is a community fighting for justice, for dignity and for survival in a country which just doesn’t seem to be on its side.
Central characters in the documentary include Judy, a local who is trying to keep her own extended family afloat while running a bar under threat from gentrification; Ronaldo and Titus, two very young brothers who are growing up in a district plagued with violence while their father serves time in prison; Kevin, Big Chief of the traditional Mardi Gras Indians, who is fighting to keep the cultural heritage of his people alive through ritualistic singing and needlework; and the revolutionary group, the Black Panthers who are investigating the lynching of two kids in the state of Mississippi, while organising a protest against police brutality.
“With What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? I wanted to get to the root of the social inequality at play in modern-day America, with a focus on the unresolved, chronic race issues as regards African Americans”, explains the 48-year-old director from Fermo, who spends his free time between Italy and the US. “My hope is that the film will spark a crucial debate on the current conditions which black Americans must contend with and which, now more than ever before, are leading to an intensification of crimes motivated by hate and discriminatory politics”.
What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? is produced by Okta Film, Pulpa Film, Shellac Sud and Rai Cinema, with the support of the ARRI International Support Program, the Friuli Venezia Giulia Audio-Visual Fund, the Bilateral Fund for the development of Italian-French film co-productions via the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBAC) – DG for Cinema and the French CNC – the National Centre for Cinema and Animation, with further assistance provided by Aide aux Cinémas du Monde and the CNC - Institut Français.
(Translated from Italian)
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