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Sundance 2024: Girls State, Power, And So It Begins | Festivals & Awards


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His latest, “Power,” a Netflix documentary lacking the focused vision of Ford’s previous films, is a work equally concerned with the origins of splintered systems. A film troubled by the history of policing in America, “Power” circles around topics, often repeating bullet points without ever discovering a unique approach to the material. 

The tactile material itself, a collage of archival footage of violent police work, is probably the strongest element of “Power.” Ford uses the images to retrace the roots of racism, classicism, and colonialism in the modern-day police force. We see images of cops attacking strikebreakers in 1933, and scenes from films like “Beast of the City” and “The Police Film.” These allusions suggest that Ford wants to critique the disconnect the supportive messaging the media has of policing with the grim reality; there’s even a scene where you hear chilling audio of a woman screaming as she’s being tased, overlaid with an idyllic black and white movie of a suburban cop with his cozy family. But outside of that moment, Ford doesn’t push the issue. 

The rudimentary editing doesn’t help either. The film is divided into several chapters, labeled by topic. Ford either doesn’t trust his audience to follow along or is allowing viewers moments to literally press pause. Whatever the case, there are several cuts that lose their effectiveness. Ford also treads very little new ground not already covered by “The 13th” or “Riotsville, USA,” two films that were structurally more interesting. Instead, it’s merely a stream of talking heads, who are often replicating one another. Even Ford makes this mistake, ending on a final note that much like “Power,” doesn’t bear repeating.    

Set in 2022, during the Philippines’ national election, “And So It Begins,” Ramona S. Diaz’s documentary is a shaggy, shapeless film. It mostly follows incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo, who is running against Senator Bongbong Marcos Jr. to succeed Rodrigo Duterte for president. The two candidates come from different backgrounds: Robredo is a widow from a working-class background. A progressive candidate, Robredo, whose emblem is the color pink, is also a feminist firebrand and friend of the queer community. Marcos is the scion of the country’s formerly exiled dictator Bongbong Marcos Sr., a man who once said, “We shall make this nation great again.” His alt-right policies make him a perfect foil to Robredo, especially when Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte, decides to run for vice president. 

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