“Hale County This Morning, This Evening” won Best Documentary this week at The 2018 IFP Gotham Awards this week at Cipriani Wall Street.
The Best Documentary jury included Rachel Grady, Alan Jacobsen, Asif Kapadia, Ross Kauffman, and Dawn Porter. The award was presented by Keegan-Michael Key. Director RaMell Ross and producers Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim (The Cinema Guild) accepted the prestigious award.
The Knockturnal: So tell me about being here at the Gotham awards.
RaMell Ross: You know it’s interesting and exciting. I’ve only seen these things on television and I’m really happy to share with the two producers on the film, Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim. It’s really cool.
The Knockturnal: And so tell me about how you came to make the documentary.
RaMell Ross: Yes, I had moved to Hale County, three years before I started the project. I was working in a community center and coaching basketball and taking photos and then sort of decided, that a sort of time-based element was probably the most immersive and relational way to connect people to the historic South, and so sort of embarked on the project.
The Knockturnal: For people who haven’t seen it, tell us a little bit about it.
RaMell Ross: So Hale County This Morning, This Evening is a film that kind of drops you into the lap of the historic South, and is a sort of visual exploration of place and people through the perspective of the African-American experience, whatever that is. Following the lives of two young men, Quincy Brian, and Daniel Collins.
The Knockturnal: How did you find your subjects?
RaMell Ross: I taught one of them, Quincy Brian. And I coached the other one, Daniel Collins. And we just kind of hit it off.
The Knockturnal: Tell me a little bit about the filming process. How long was it, and editing etc.?
RaMell Ross: I shot the film for five years, thirteen hundred hours, an enormous amount of hours. I was editing the film the entire time. Quite extensive, I think the last six months was when the film really became compressed when the edit team came on board with Joslyn Barnes, Maya Krinsky, and Robb Moss. Actually, we needed a way to end the film, so we were like, we’ll use the eclipse, and so once the eclipse happened we kind of knew that we had that cyclical sort of lunar cycle element kind of locked down. And if you watch the film you will know that.
The Knockturnal: Is this your directorial debut?
RaMell Ross: It is.
The Knockturnal: And what does it mean to you to have made a film?
RaMell Ross: It’s like putting a personal dictionary into the world. And so that’s a lotta responsibility, cause you’re giving people in some sense knowledge or ways of making meaning that may not existed otherwise, so it better be responsible.
The Knockturnal: And do you hope to make more films now? Have you gotten the bug or are you going to go back to community work?
RaMell Ross: Well I’m sort of practicing artist now and do a variety of things, like write and make photos and made this film. I also teach at a university, I’ll probably continue doing the same thing in my slow and lethargic place.
The Knockturnal: What state was this?
RaMell Ross: Well the film takes place in Alabama.
The Knockturnal: Where are you currently based?
RaMell Ross: I live in Alabama and Rhode Island, but I teach at Brown University in Rhode Island.
The Premier Sponsor of the 2018 IFP Gotham Awards was The New York Times, and the Platinum Sponsor was GreenSlate. The Official Water Partner was FIJI Water, the Official Chocolate Partner was Lindt Chocolate and the Official Wine Partner was Robert Hall Winery.