Sunday, November 11, 2018
NateHood on GRIT(2018) DOC NYC 2018
Here is where the second meaning of the title Grit comes in: the indomitable spirit of the survivors fighting against the corrupt Indonesian government and the smirking, sneering Lapindo executives. Though it focuses on a panoply of survivors—artists, activists, teachers, laborers—the main figure it keeps returning to is a fourteen year old girl named Dian whose father worked for Lapindo and died of cancer complications a year after the eruption. It charts her awakening as a political activist, organizing protests with her fellow school students, attending rallies, and finally going off to college for a degree to help her community.
Shot over six years, the film captures numerous set-backs and indignities thrust upon Dian and her fellow villagers—the most heartbreaking being a presidential candidate who runs a platform guaranteeing the Lapindo survivors full compensation only to immediately renege upon being elected. But Dian keeps moving forward, tirelessly, ceaselessly.
There have been several documentaries at this year’s DOC NYC festival grappling with environmental and economic injustice, but none have captured the earnest spirit of optimism better than Grit. It has no illusions that these problems will one day vanish; it will require lifetimes of work and sacrifice. But justice will come, even if it takes one step back for every two steps forward.