I was able to view the World Premiere of this remarkable film at the SXSW film festival. This eloquent film follows the life and struggles of 3-year-old Autumn Collier in Jersey City, New Jersey. The directors filmed Autumn and her family through a series of family crises over an extended period of time. The film really paints a deeply personal picture of African-American poverty in the United States. Autumn is 3-years-old; her mother is 19; her grandmother is about 39. Her mother is in jail pending trial and sentencing. The family struggles with health issues (particularly, obesity and Diabetes), and extreme poverty.
The cinema verite style film is as powerful as it is heartbreaking. One can see elements of both the institutionalized cycle of poverty playing out over multiple generations as well as the irresponsible behaviors and actions of the family that seem to be making their bad situation worse. The film doesn't attempt to answer whether the causes of their dire situation are institutional or individual, but instead leaves that to the viewer to sort out and attempt to sort out answers.
The overhanging question is does this lovable precocious little girl have a future that is any better than what her family is experiencing. This is a film that needs to be seen by a wide audience, because this country has failed to address issues of poverty. Even in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, questions of poverty are not being properly addressed. Autumns eyes is a cry for help. I just hope and pray that the American people are listening.
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