Outcasts, or latter-day pioneers? The Californian flatland squatters chronicled in Gianfranco Rosi’s Below Sea Level raise questions of independence versus exile as they cultivate freedom in the shadow of necessity.
Nicolas Rapord, The Village Voice
Every image has a bracing battered beauty, and these are some of the most compelling characters ever put on screen. Sterling’s generosity, Michael’s soulful growl, Lili and Kenny’s domestic struggles, Cindy’s dreams — these people become family. When Bulletproof and Michael share stories of how they lost their children it’s completely heartbreaking. A scene where we watch Insane Wayne deliver a hilariously maniacal sex rant is disturbing and unnerving and also one of the most honest depictions of carnal desire ever recorded. The unflinching camera puts us into places we may not want to be, but this is not simple provocation.
What is documentary if not the gift of going somewhere and not turning away from what you find? To turn away from Slab City is to give up a full knowledge of ourselves.
Robert Greene, Nonfics