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Review: TRUTH, INCORPORATED ~ A Bold And Compelling Film On Behalf Of Freedom Of The Press

Review: TRUTH, INCORPORATED ~  A Bold And Compelling Film On Behalf Of Freedom Of The Press

Consider the dire consequences of daily and unrelenting attacks against a free press and of demonizing its work as fake and its journalists as enemies of the people.

Then, imagine a scenario in which this, one of our most cherished freedoms, has not only been assailed but has been actually suppressed by violent force.

Think then about what it must feel like to be a fugitive from injustice and evil authority, defending that freedom at the risk to one's own life.

Eight minutes of well-crafted filmmaking can transport you into such dystopian and Kafkaesque territory ~ can chill your spine with the knowledge that such repression is possible if the forces of darkness are given license.

That's what the eight minutes of TRUTH, INCORPORATED accomplishes. Directed by Gabriel Barreto and produced by Carlotta Summers, this powerful and compelling short film is an invitation into imagining the frighteningly possible and an implicit warning to beware of those who peddle distrust of a free press.

Three champions of the truth (Ms. Summers, Miles Lobo, and Charles Ouda) are on the run from thugs representing The Elite, a force that has overtaken the northern regions of Los Angeles. The trio's mission is to provide accuracy in reporting to a besieged public. Hunkered down in a basement, they have mere moments to broadcast their next episode, all the while quivering at the possibility of capture, bristling at any sound that may signify imminent arrest.

Jane Doe (Summers), the daughter of an investigative reporter who was murdered by The Elite, follows in her father's footsteps to deliver truth to a listening audience under siege. At this moment of reckoning, however, the news to be transmitted is not of the breaking kind. Rather, it is the good news ("news from the one and only impartial broadcast") that, despite the surrounding havoc, there is strength in unity and that fear must be dispelled in favor of defiance.

So, in a brilliant and inspired twist in an otherwise draconian tale, Jane recites the 23rd Psalm ("fear no evil for you are with me") and airs the image of a bucolic landscape by Monet (Autumn On The Seine At Argenteuil). With these words and this image, she exhorts her listeners to feel their irrepressible power and, in so doing, to know the essence of their humanity. And, she distinguishes them from those who are willing to take down a system because "they fear what they do not understand."

The impact of the film rests in Ms. Summers's inspired performance ~ in her ability to convey, at one and the same time, both anxiety and steely-eyed determination. Her wide-eyed expressiveness is echoed by the palpable fear in her comrades' eyes. As three hooded thugs of The Elite (Logan McCoy, Zachary Guttman, Mitchell McCoy) advance to shut down the broadcast, she presents herself as a figure of solidarity with her ideals. If she is to be a martyr for her (truly, our) cause, then she will go into the night nevertheless defiant.

The pacing of the film is perfectly and dramatically measured. Seconds seem like minutes as Jane Doe prepares to broadcast. Barry Stephenson's haunting and pulsating score accentuates the tension in the basement-as-studio. Cinematographer Charles C. J. Gates hones in on the faces of the principles, his dramatic close-ups aligning the viewer with the characters' apprehension of the danger that hovers above.

If the film was only a weighty journey into dystopia, the gravity of it might be too much to bear. However, as a filmmaker with a conscience, Summers weaves into the story line a powerful message of courage, faith and grace. Emboldened by an unwavering belief in a free press, she and her allies are further sustained by a belief in the power of community and the value of resistance.

The film is necessary viewing ~ a powerful, poignant, and compelling tribute to resistance in the face of oppression. Its theme is one often related in the context of other nations but has yet to unfold fully in our own. It therefore marshals the viewer to beware and to be vigilant lest things get so far out of hand here that we are all in the underground.

Already a semi-finalist for Screenplay at the 2019 Big Apple Film Festival, TRUTH INCORPORATED should be a serious contender for high recognition at future festivals. It's that good and important.

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the courage of Carlotta Summers to speak truth to power through film and to walk the talk of her conscience. Her appearance in Cady McClain's short film, BUTTERFLIES (which I had the privilege of reviewing at last year's Sedona International Film Festival) was breathtaking. Now, in both directing and acting, she not only honors and upholds the fundamental right of freedom of the press but also advances ethnic diversity in the media and celebrates the contributions and rights of immigrants (two of her cast are fighting for their Artist Visas or seeking permanent residence in the U.S.). More power and success to her!

Photo credit to Jeff Zorabedian of JDZ Photography ~ L to R: Miles Lobo, Carlotta Summers, Charles Ouda

For info regarding screenings of Truth Incorporated:

Wildcat Film ~

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