The Other Side: A different facet of the USA
by Camillo De Marco
- CANNES 2015: Following his Texan trilogy, the Italian director returns to Cannes with a new portrait of the most hidden and brutal side to America
It is a desperate America, one with no voice, which is depicted in The Other Side [+see also:
interview: Roberto Minervini
film profile], the documentary by Roberto Minervini selected in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival, and set to hit Italian screens with Lucky Red on 28 May. Following his Texan trilogy – the third instalment of which, Stop the Pounding Heart [+see also:
film profile], was presented at the same festival out of competition in 2013 – the 45-year-old director has shifted to the neighbouring state of Louisiana, which is also a symbol of the ailing underbelly of America, and which is struggling the most to pick itself back up again in the wake of the economic crisis.
With a dry, refined style, which uses the language of cinematic fiction, The Other Side is not sparing in its use of a number of very raw scenes as it follows the lives of several members of a small community that is completely hooked on methamphetamine, one of the drugs with the most devastating effects. One example of this is when the "main character", Mark Kelley, injects a dose of it into a young stripper who is eight months pregnant. Together with his friend Lisa, Mark agreed to be followed around by Minervini’s camera over a number of weeks. This kind of marginalised misfit who is running away from what remains of a three-month prison sentence, and who rails against Obama and gets emotional because of his sick mother, is just the tip of a drifting iceberg, which outlives itself.
The main characters in the second of the two episodes that the film is composed of remonstrate against and, above all, shoot at a picture of President Obama, with rifles and machine guns of various calibres. Minervini has filmed a local militia, which is standing up for its right to bear arms in order to "defend their families", doing what it loves best: training in the woods with veterans of the wars in Iraq, drinking beer, cursing about the central government and its foreign policy, and taking part in the Independence Day gathering, where the director seems to have come close to being lynched. This cultural regression, fear and xenophobic paranoia almost compel the viewer to feel pity for them.
The Other Side is sold internationally by Doc & Film International.
(Translated from Italian)