In the scorching summer of 2017, Texas-based filmmaker Roberto Minverini traveled to New Orleans for an extended look at life in the city and region. Following three black subjects—a Black Panthers chapter seeking justice for the murder of a community member by the police, two young brothers navigating life on the streets, and a bar-owning woman living a precarious existence—the resulting film is a crucial portrait of discovery, struggle, and survival, with the personal and spatial devastation of Hurricane Katrina sitting firmly on the horizon behind. Shot in luminous and high-contrast black-and-white, What You Gonna Do When the World’s On Fire? asks difficult questions without offering easy answers, instead “plunges into the thick of it, conjuring long histories of pain and anger engendered by American society and institutions—and conjured in the immediacy of those things blazing directly before our eyes. Any kind of cinematic distance would be an effective denial of the profound acuteness of subjects’ tenacity in the face of a fearful, deeply imbalanced existence in their home country.”—Daniel Kasman, MUBI Notebook.
Appears in: Weekend Engagements