Bella Online weighs in

Bella Online, “The Voice of Women” bellaattended our New York premiere screening, and has filed a dispatch praising the movie and reflecting on the conversation it generated that night at Lincoln Center.

Here’s an excerpt:

I saw the film at its Lincoln Center Film Society screening in New York. The filmmakers were there, and they reported that Thomas Frank and the people who appear in the film are all very pleased with the final result. I can see how they would be. The film expands on Frank’s ideas and makes his Kansas a vivid, undeniable true place. The film also presents conservatives as three-dimensional, flesh-and-blood people — not as caricatures to be laughed at derisively.

In a panel discussion after the film, France Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, declared it to be an excellent ethnography, which it is. The other panelists debated about whether the film would engender understanding between liberals and conservatives, and the general consensus was that it would not.

As the quizzes at YourMorals.Org show us, our positions on issues such as abortion are deep-seated and gut-level. No matter how well I may know Angel Dillard from this film, and no matter how much I may empathize with her life story and admire her pluck and vivacity, I am not going to change my opinion about abortion and neither is she.

We agree this was the conensus in New York – that no great moment of national healing is imminent.  We expect this question to be pondered at every venue we show the movie – can there be meaningful dialog between Americans of radically opposed beliefs?

As we have written about before, we were struck by how foreign Kansans seem to New Yorkers.  We didn’t hear many remarks like “my cousins are a lot like the people in the movie, and when I talk to them….”  We’re curious what we’ll hear at our Chicago screenings, coming up in September, and in other parts of the country.

What do you think?


  1. Susan Gaissert
    August 18, 2009

    Hi. As the writer of the Bella Online review, I wanted to add that I’ve watched the film again, with my husband, who was unable to attend in NYC. He also thought the film was excellent, and together we noticed a similarity to Robert Altman’s “Nashville” (my favorite film of all time) in that you see characters popping up in other characters’ stories and lots of characters coming together in one place (e.g., the church services).

    On the second viewing, I found myself thinking even more about how much the film does present economic issues, albeit in a subtle way, and how truly frightening some of the character’s comments are (e.g., Pastor Terry on Saddam and the Koran).

    In closing, not only did you do a great job with the film, but your DVD delivery speed is unmatched.

    All my best wishes,
    Susan Gaissert

  2. Susan,

    Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments on our movie. We care deeply about the economic issues that affect Kansans and, by extension, so much of what we call Middle America. However, we struggled with how to represent it on our movie. The truth is, economic arguments are hard to make without voice-over, graphics, hectoring experts, or other intrusive elements. As you so nicely observed, we found it much more effective to just let the audience soak in the ambience of a part of America that is, unfortunately, very much in decline.


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