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April 7

“Today” — today! — at Anthology Film Archives

Filed under: pop culture,Treats — posted by Kristine @ 2:44 pm

The filmmaker Naftali Beane Rutter — a dear friend of mine! — has a screening of his documentary film “Today” on April 7th at 6pm, the closing night of the New Filmmakers 2010 Spring Festival at Anthology Film Archives. Here, via a kindly-provided screener, is a sneak peek…see you there in a few hours!

“Today” is a poignant look at three families as they continue the simple task of living in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Blaise, Stanich and McPeak families differ in race, religion and socio-economic class, yet have other profound commonalities. In spite of Katrina, the families remain more or less intact, with parents and children in the same household. The mothers, Alice, Sissy and Lore,  form the backbone of each family, running things at home while the husbands work. While “Today” addresses the common roles and identities forged by motherhood,  it also offers a  delicate portrayal of how each woman makes motherhood her own.

As we get to know the Blaises, we feel at home with the ease and comfort they exude through their interactions. Being a family of six and living in a FEMA trailer is certainly not an ideal situation, yet Alice encourages her children to learn all they can, get an education, and pursue their dreams, even if those dreams include driving a bus. Alice’s impressive joy and hope reveal themselves as she cares for her children and in the brief moments she interacts with her husband and another family member, Uncle Lewis.

Similar to the Blaises, the Stanich family consists of five people also sharing one small living space: one room of a house Angelo Stanich, Sr. has been hired to repair. Katrina destroyed the Stanich’s home forcing them to move from Elmer, LA, to Alexander, LA and now finally to Holy Cross. They, too, had a stint in a FEMA trailer. Angelo, Sr. is present and participates in the lives of the children, but the main task of raising the children is thrust on Sissy as she navigates through the chaos that has become their lives.

In comparison to the Blaises and the Stanich’s, on the surface, the McPeaks seem rather untouched by Katrina. Lore runs with her headphones, does yoga in a park and gives mani-pedis in her work studio behind their home. Unlike the Blaise and Stanich families, the McPeaks’ world and their home have not changed much since Katrina. Lore’s world is comprised of conversations regarding farmers’ markets, designer paints and boat services. Robert and Lore have their 19th anniversary coming up, but there is a sadness to Lore. Of the three families, the McPeaks seem to be the most economically sound and stable, yet these resources only serve to point out what is missing — namely, Robert at the dinner table with his family. Robert works 12 hour shifts as a volunteer police officer and when home is often distant. Whereas the Blaises and the Staniches eat and pray together and fill their homes with the bustling of family life, the McPeak household is echoingly silent.

“Today” is essentially a portrait of how our interpersonal relationships and connections sustain us, particularly in times of loss and hardship. While there are questions I’m left asking about each of these families, the film draws us in to the nuanced rhythms of their lives. So, see the film and tell us what you think.


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