Saturday, May 28, 2016
Almost Sunrise (2016) soars as a deeply moving film portrait of two men trying to heal Telluride Mountainfilm Festival. and Human Rights Watch Film Festival
We have to applaud Michael Collins for making a film that genuinely will move you to tears. To be certain there are a couple of big moments where you would think you would react emotionally, however, quite unexpectedly, there are several moment in ALMOST SUNRISE where I was reaching for something to wipe my eyes, not because there was some great cathartic moment going on but because I simply felt something for Voss and Anderson as fellow human beings and not characters on the big screen. These men are our friends and family and we are moved.
Collins has a made a film where life in all its small moments are on the big screen and we are so much better for it. For example the inter-play between the men and their families is absolutely priceless. Collins doesn't over use sequences or discussions of the men as military people, we know who they are, that's why we are hearing these stories, rather he cuts things so that the men and their families are seen as families to the point where if you didn't know what the larger context was you would think its just a family drama. Its an achievement that makes us care about Voss and Anderson so much more than if the were simply soldiers. They are ultimately us, or our sons or brothers or husbands.
I love that director Michael Collins has fashioned a film that transcends what has become an over crowded and over done genre of documentary, the wounded vet film. There is no doubt that we must help the men and women who keep us safe in anyway we can. We must make sure that they get the help they need. Many filmmakers have correctly realized that the perfect way to make sure they get the help is to tell their stories. Unfortunately most do so in ways that lessen them by making each story seem like every other one. While the stories are similar, the films don't have to be, since no two soldier is exactly the same. Filmmakers need to break away from the same story construction drum beat.
Michael Collins has moved away and shaken things up so we are seeing it all in brand new way. Not only are we seeing the the story of two wounded soldiers with fresh eyes but Collins has managed to make the story much more universal. As he had done with his earlier film GIVE UP TOMORROW the plight of one man, or in this case two men. Not only has Collins made the two men part of our family by showing us theirs, he then takes the next step by bringing in other people along the way. What Voss and Anderson experienced and are fighting for is for all soldiers everywhere - and these men and women are just like us as well
You may think its easy to relate the whole world to two men or even to just the few of us in the audience and you'd be wrong. Yes, you can intellectually make the connection,- we know these men are supposed to be all all men because that's what film does but to be able to do so in such away that we're reaching for a tissue to wipe away tears because the only thing on screen are two men walking and talking is something truly special.
ALMOST SUNRISE is truly special and must be seen.
The film was the opening night film last night at Telluride and it screens tomorrow and Monday. For more information and tickets go here.
The film plays June 11 and 13 at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York. For details here.
The film will also play later in June at AFI Docs.
The film will play in 2017 on PBS