Mon 23 Jun, 2008
Tags: Broadcast, Media coverage, PBS, Television
With national broadcast beginning tomorrow, there are more reviews and articles about Traces of the Trade each day.
Television critic Joanne Ostrow, of the Denver Post, has a review being carried by newspapers across the country. Ostrow writes that this is “a stunning documentary … eye-opening and important,” which “ought to spark conversations on race” for at least as long as the nine years it took to make.
This morning, Newsblaze, which last week found the film “a remarkable documentary … brave and sobering … a labor of love,” runs another review which rates the film as “Excellent (4 stars).” The review, by Kam Williams, finds the documentary “an eye-opening caravan undertaken by some refreshingly honest Caucasians willing to take an unblinking look at their slave legacy and the devastation left in its wake.” The review further states that Traces of the Trade is “an emotional journey … a unique look at slavery from the perspective of Northern white beneficiaries.”
Lauren Wissot, the award-winning director and film critic, offers her assessment of the film, which she terms “overwhelming … powerful … poignant.” “The ten DeWolf descendants,” she writes, “are a thoughtful, forthcoming, from the heart group—willing to doubt, to not have answers, to admit both fear and internalized racism.” Of Katrina’s deeply personal, idiosyncratic approach to the film, Wissot observes that “there’s something sweet and humble in this, in Browne’s constant commentary describing how unsure and awkward she feels.”
Perhaps most satisfying, Wissot offers this observation:
In fact there is limitless drama (the stories in Traces of the Trade could easily fill a PBS miniseries) with everyone involved in a perpetual soul-search—this is what makes cinema (and life) so interesting.
The Philadelphia Daily News carries a review this morning by their television critic, Ellen Gray, including an interview with Katrina Browne. Gray takes the reader through several of Katrina’s arguments for making a deeply personal film about race, with only white participants, and concludes that “the timing’s perfect” for a documentary of this nature. She also acknowledges, however, that the “very personal” nature of Katrina’s film, as well as its occasionally “cringe-worthy moments” and debates about apologies and reparations “may not be everyone’s idea of an answer” to the country’s problems with race.
Courtesy of Critical Women on Film, we have a review from the June 12 issue of the Syracuse City Eagle, which refers to the “profound and universal power” that Katrina was aiming for in using the cinematic art form, and Aristotle’s theory of drama and catharsis, to tell the story of our ancestors and their legacy. The review previews two films which are showing together at Syracuse’s Community Folk Art Center, in commemoration of the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade. The other documentary, The Film Class, follows an Israeli filmmaker who leads five “Black Bedouin” women on a pilgrimage into the Negev Desert, in search of their ancestors, Africans who were taken east by Arab slave traders. The reviewer concludes that the double showing is an “inspired” way to highlight both films, as well as the parallels between them.
Finally, a quick nod to all of the bloggers who are responding with such strong interest to the coverage on Bill Moyers’ Journal, the screenings at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival at Lincoln Center, and the upcoming national broadcast on PBS. I suspect they’re doing more than anyone else to spread the word and to promote interest among those looking for a novel approach to dialogue about race.