82 minutes

There is something fascinatingly singular about Belgian director Sofie Benoot's leisurely travelogue of the American South. Maybe it's the impeccable framings, reminding of William Eggleston's photography; maybe the way her interviews are always conducted from a distance, with the people always clearly visible in their place of work; maybe the slow-moving pans across the landscape of the modern South, surviving as well as it can in between its fondly-remembered history, its impoverished present and its uncertain future. Crisply photographed and smartly edited, Blue Meridian follows the course of the Mississippi river from Cairo, Illinois, all the way down to Venice, Louisiana, "the end of the world" as one of its residents puts it, because there is nothing beyond the river except the water that may swallow the city if it rises any higher.

     Ms. Denoot shows how the people are the essential wealth of the South, and how kindness and racism, pride and friendliness coexist in them; how everything they do and think is coloured by the history of this struggling land that, in the words of another interviewee, "goes on just like it has been" for ages. Whether they rail against the government for their gross negligence over the Katrina hurricane in New Orleans or against the yankees for having crushed the Confederacy in the Civil War, the director brings out the resilience and pride of the underdog that seems to surface throughout her encounters, mingled with the joy of community and generosity that is a staple of the American character. It's clear that Ms. Denoot and her crew made a point to see beyond the stereotypes, even though they're unavoidable, resulting in a stylish, compassionate, smart portrait.

Directed by Sofie Benoot; produced by Marie Logie; camera (colour), Fairuz; sound, Kwinten van Laethem and Senjan Jansen; film editors, Tom Denoyette and Ms. Benoot.
     An Auguste Orts production in co-production with Atelier Graphoui and CBA - Brussels Audiovisual Centre; with help from the Centre for Cinema and Audiovisual of the Belgian French Community, Wallon Teledistributors, Belgian National Lottery and Region Brussels-Capital; with support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund, Canvas, Sint-Lukas College Brussels, Flemish Community Commission. (World sales, Auguste Orts.)
     Screened: DocLisboa 2011 official competition advance screener, Lisbon, October 22nd 2011. 

Blue Meridian - Trailer from kc nOna on Vimeo.


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