Full Frame: What's the Use of Looking Back? In the Case of Two Towns of Jasper, It Helps Us Gauge Our Progress from Then to Now. | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Full Frame: What's the Use of Looking Back? In the Case of Two Towns of Jasper, It Helps Us Gauge Our Progress from Then to Now.

Posted by on Sat, Apr 8, 2017 at 4:31 PM

click to enlarge Two Towns of Jasper - PHOTO COURTESY OF FULL FRAME
  • photo courtesy of Full Frame
  • Two Towns of Jasper
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival:
Two Towns of Jasper
Friday, April 7
Carolina Theatre, Durham


In 1998, an African-American man was murdered by three white men in the seemingly peaceful town of Jasper, Texas. Not long after the incident took place, filmmaker Whitney Dow, intuiting the complexity of the story, asked his colleague Marco Williams to join the project of documenting it. Together they determined that they needed two film crews, one white and one black, which would explore the story from the perspective of the white and black townspeople, respectively.

Two Towns of Jasper, the result of this unconventional approach, was initially shown at Full Frame in 2002; it screened again yesterday as a part of the festival’s twentieth-anniversary retrospective. It’s the sort of film that makes the retrospective format worthwhile by reminding us of the dilemmas faced by both filmmakers and film curators, whether in 1998 or today. After all, what is the ultimate objective of documentaries? Is it to change unfavorable realities or to expose them, to bring some light into the darkness? What good is a movie if it’s destined to be archived and only known by cinephiles?

Fifteen years after Two Towns of Jasper first came to Full Frame, its modern relevance is disturbing. That’s why it never hurts to recall the hard task film festivals undertake as social and historic witnesses of their times, keeping remarkable works like this one alive and making sure they reach the broad audiences they deserve, so that we can all learn from the past and move in a different direction, ensuring we become better versions of ourselves.

Poised between mere observation and self-awareness of its own limitations as, after all, a constructed narrative, the film's non-objective use of two separate crews unveils how deeply split the community is, regardless of both sides' efforts to get along. We might wonder how different this movie would have been if there were only one crew, how many nuances of truth would have been missed. As it is, no answers are provided, leaving it all on us.

Nothing is easy about confronting the sad truth: that this is a portrait not just of the past, but of what our society continues to struggle with. Hopefully, someday soon, we will be able to say, “This time no longer exists,” as one of Jasper's residents states, and movies like this will be around to keep the memory alive, as documents for the service of future generations.

Tags: , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

Wow. I guess you can't recognize brilliant satire when you see it. This was an amazing performance that if you …

by Sam Bayer on ADF Review: Hillel Kogan's We Love Arabs Lags Behind a Cultural Conversation Already Well Underway in Our Region's Performing Arts Scene (Arts)

The photo in this article is of Jackson Cooper and Katie Barrett, as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, not of …

by David Akiva Klionsky on Theater Review: The Amusing Tea with Edie & Fitz Strains to Make Hay From a Gin-Soaked Dust-Up Between Edith Wharton and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Arts)

Most Recent Comments

Wow. I guess you can't recognize brilliant satire when you see it. This was an amazing performance that if you …

by Sam Bayer on ADF Review: Hillel Kogan's We Love Arabs Lags Behind a Cultural Conversation Already Well Underway in Our Region's Performing Arts Scene (Arts)

The photo in this article is of Jackson Cooper and Katie Barrett, as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, not of …

by David Akiva Klionsky on Theater Review: The Amusing Tea with Edie & Fitz Strains to Make Hay From a Gin-Soaked Dust-Up Between Edith Wharton and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Arts)

Thanks for the nice article and acknowledgement, Byron. I would like to put a gentle dedication out to my father, …

by RKlem on Common Ground Theatre Is Gone, But Some of Its Resources and Its Role Live on in Walltown Children's Theatre (Arts)

I thought it was a great movie. The acting was believable, special effects were good, story was balanced and the …

by Cat Jackson on Movie Review: In King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Guy Ritchie Gets Medieval on Our Collective Asses (Arts)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation