Known for his portraits of marginalized communities in the American South, documentarian Roberto Minervini captured “moments of deep realism” with his latest film, What You Gonna Do When the Worlds on Fire?, that resonate on both political and human levels.
Premiering at the 2018 Venice Film Festival, where it won three prizes—including the Fair Play Cinema Award, the UNICEF Award, and the Premio Vivere da Sportivi Award—What You Gonna Do? was shot in Louisiana during the summer of 2017, after a series of brutal killings of black men sent shockwaves through the United States. Meditating on the state of race relations in America, the elegantly shot black-and-white doc is a visceral, intimate portrait of those fighting for justice, dignity and survival every day.
Sitting down at The Landmark Theatre last night for a panel discussion on the film—one of 10 selected for Deadlines For The Love of Docs screenings series—the Texas-based director vividly recalls a sentiment he felt in the South, around the time in 2016 when both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot and killed by the police. “I remember in the South where I live, at least in Texas, that you could feel the resurgence of [a] sentiment, which is the fear of black people. I remember Donald Trump campaigning and talking not so much about the wall and immigration, but more about how dangerous downtowns were, black downtown. So, all of that [is] the genesis of the project,” said the director, who tackled the resurgence of right-wing extremism with his prior feature, The Other Side. “Long story short, I decided perhaps this is the time to hop in the car, go to Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and start working on this film.”
Dissecting American race relations on a political level, he explained, Minervini is interested in grassroots campaigns—“the fact that theres communities that have no voice or representation in mainstream politics and the political discourse.” As a director, he added, the goal has been to “put [his] humble, small spotlight on communities that are barely represented in the political scenario in America.”
But to Minervini, the political resonance of What You Gonna Do? is only part of what gives the doc its power, given the personal connections he forged with the people whose stories he was telling. “I connect with outsiders, I connect with self-made peoRead More – Source