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Long Story Short

A film by Natalie Bookchin

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In the moving and immersive film LONG STORY SHORT, over 100 people at homeless shelters, food banks, adult literacy programs, and job training centers in Los Angeles and the Bay Area in Northern California discuss their experiences of poverty: why they are poor, how it feels, and what they think should be done about American poverty and homelessness today. Numerous interviews are stitched together to form a polyphonic account of American poverty told from the inside.

MacArthur Grantee Natalie Bookchin, an artist whose work has been shown at the Pompidou Centre, the Whitney Museum and the Tate, uses the film to amplify the voices of the displaced and dispossessed. While individuals whom Bookchin filmed in separate spaces appear onscreen in their own visual spaces, mirroring the isolation of their experiences, words flow between them like a musical ensemble. Together in the film for the first time, Americans who are rarely acknowledged or listened to form a virtual collective.

One of the key messages that comes through is how difficult it is to live in poverty, and how much resourcefulness it takes simply to manage daily life. A powerful and unforgettable film.

"An incredible work of montage on the collective power of speech."Maria Bonsanti, Artistic Director, Cinema du Reel

"An original piece of editing, which exploits the split screen principle in a way that is as pertinent as it is original."Telerama

"A hundred ways of being poor and a hundred ways of saying it close-up combine to form a polyphonic account. The hundred people in tenuous housing in California who give similar statements in LONG STORY SHORT respond to one another, directly or indirectly, in a convergence of people, whether isolated individuals or those placed in groups and aligned. They are intertwined, they resonate with one another, and it is this chorus of minimalist yet intelligent writing that was awarded."En attendant Nadeau, Journal of Literature, Ideas and the Arts

"I was hugely impressed by LONG STORY SHORT, its gripping detail and precision. It's a masterpiece of editing, very virtuosic. Great work!"Yvonne Rainer

"[The film's] candid but humanizing approach interrupts the prejudice and pity commonly directed toward individuals living in poverty, revealing instead the long-term, systemic nature of economic disenfranchisement."Jennifer Gonzalez, Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, UC Santa Cruz

"Explores poverty in the United States with a bold narrative technique. The great value of the film is not only in the strength of its witnesses, and not only the impressive work of selecting and editing the sound and image, but that the ingenious form of its conception is tailored to its ambitions."Diego Batlle, Otros Cines

"Reveals the crushing collective reality of poverty in the United States. It sizzles with calm rage!" Trebor Scholz, Associate Professor of Culture & Media Studies, The New School

"Perfectly pitched to generate lively discussion in any classroom across a range of fields and disciplines... not to be missed."Caren Kaplan, Professor, American Studies, UC Davis

Grand Prize, Cinema du Reel Film Festival
Special Mention, RIDM Montreal International Documentary Festival
Silver Award, Athens Film & Video Festival
Programmer's Award for Short Documentary, Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
L'Alternativa Festival de Cinema Independent
Cineteca Madrid
2018 APA Film Festival

45 minutes / Color
Closed Captioned
Release: 2016
Copyright: 2016

For individual consumers (home video)

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For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
African-Americans, American Studies, Anthropology, Closed Captioned, Communications, Criminal Justice, Economic Sociology, Economics, Ethics, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, Media Studies, Psychology, Sociology, Urban Studies, Women's Studies

Watch the trailer:

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