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Elijah Hernandez
Elijah Hernandez

Subtitle The Thin Blue Line __EXCLUSIVE__

Traditionally, the Blue Line Flag is represented by a blue line running horizontally across a black background. In 2014, Thin Blue Line USA, located in Michigan, redesigned the flag, creating a variation of the subdued 13-stripe American Flag, raising funds for the families of fallen officers.

subtitle The Thin Blue Line

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HOMI BHABHA: Welcome to the third and final History and Literature public lecture for this year. We are most grateful to have your full attention. We've had wonderful audiences, very appreciative evenings, great questions. I hope you will be true to form again this evening.Growing up as I did in Bombay, some miles south of the gaudy and glitzy world of Bollywood, you may well imagine that my relation to the topic of truth in cinema is somewhat skewed, perhaps even a little bit dubious.Song and dance routines aside, Bombay was also the home of a pioneering documentary film tradition, rather like Errol Morris, non-fiction features, committed to an invigorating aesthetic of social inquiry. These documentarians distrusted the information that was liberally disseminated in the public sphere. They tirelessly sought an aesthetic form in the film that initiated an interlocutory relationship with the topics or themes of their films and their audiences.The investigative genre assumes a more unidirectional search for truth. What I'm calling the interlocutory form, however, reveals what appears to be true, only when the subject, good, bad or indifferent, talks back. And the viewer, like the director, is empowered to read between the lines.It gives me the greatest pleasure to introduce Errol Morris in the company of Bombay's interlocutory filmmakers, because he belongs to a public sphere of cultural citizenship, in which the truth of historical events, is not luminous. It emerges from the murky shadows, the twilight terrain, from which we come to learn what really happened or not, or what was truly done or what was said to be done in truth.When The Thin Blue Line was released in 1988, a review at this time, Errol Morris' film has built an investigation of a murder and a nightmarish meditation on the difference between truth and fiction. When Randall Adams was released after more than 12 years in prison, first on death row, the Dallas assistant district attorney complained that the mind of the judge who ordered Adams release, had been warped by the New York underground cult movie maker who was down here. The truth about Morris' film set Randall Adams free.Morris, himself, described The Thin Blue Line as a nonfiction feature instead of a documentary. Because like Truman Capote In Cold Blood, he was trying to call attention to the tension between reporting and trying to create a work of art. As Morris brought out one kind of truth from the human subjects of historical events, that he records, his aesthetic balance sketches out the aesthetic sensorium, color, light, sound, shapes, music and metaphors ? the universe through which, unconsciously and figuratively, both the subjects and his audiences live through a fog of vanity, habit and circumstance even as they strive towards a kind of clarity.In The Fog of War, we see and hear Robert McNamara try or not try to come to grips with his managerial arrogance and the hyper- rationality that led to a tragically clouded judgment about Vietnam.Writing in The New York Times, in response to the videotape of a U.S. Marine shooting an Iraqi prisoner in Fallujah, Morris suggested, and I quote, "that if you want to believe some things, then we often find a way to do so, regardless of evidence to the contrary. Believing is seeing and not the other way around."In the best sense, Errol Morris' films are disturbing works of truth, history and art. They renew our hope that new ways of seeing can unsettle old ways of believing. It is by entering the intrepid interlocutory spaces that opened up what we might be able to negotiate in this difficult transition, that gives this remarkable filmmaker and his films the importance and following that they have so rightly deserved. It gives me the greatest pleasure to welcome you.[applause]ERROL MORRIS: This is very kind. I should point out that the use of the term "nonfiction feature" so kindly described a moment ago, was really a marketing tool. Probably the same could be said for Truman Capote as well ? the desire to get your work before a larger audience, which is at least part of the motivation for making movies. You want, actually, people to see them.I picked this subject, perhaps out of a hat, because ever since I started work as a filmmaker and probably long before, I was concerned, still am concerned, with issues of truth. Although I've never liked the idea expressed by Godard that film is truth 24 times a second. I have a slightly different version. Film is lies 24 times a second. Almost the same, slightly different.The first film I made, Gates of Heaven, was very much in reaction to a prevailing idea about how documentaries should be made. Namely, shoot them verite, truth cinema. There was this idea that if you follow certain rules, if you shoot things in a certain way, then out pops the truth. The rules are fairly straightforward. Shoot with a hand-held camera, shoot with available light, become a fly-on-the-wall, observing but not observed in return. And of course, try to be as unobtrusive as possible. It's one of those meat-grinder ideas. You put in the appropriate ingredients, and magically, truth results.To me, it's utter nonsense. Who could have ever made such a claim? On the basis of what? Does the font you use to print a sentence guarantee its truth or falsity? I think not. All of us get comfort ? I can?t speak for all of us, but my guess is the preponderant number of people in this room get a certain comfort from reading The New York Times. It's that familiar set of fonts that we're used to seeing every day, fonts which give us a certain level of comfort, a belief that what we're reading is true. I would submit that style doesn't guarantee truth. How could it possibly ever do such a thing? We may feel that the fonts are truth-telling fonts, but it's our uncritical reliance on a whole constellation of beliefs.It's a purported solution to the Cartesian riddle of what's out there: you just pick the appropriate style and somehow the riddle vanishes? Again, I think not.So from the very first film I made, when I was debating what to show here this evening, and I haven't really brought anything from Gates of Heaven, but I can say a few things about this first film. I decided to break all of the rules. Instead of using lightweight equipment, we tried to use the heaviest equipment that we could afford. Fortunately, my budget was limited in those days, or I would have used even heavier equipment. I tried to be always as obtrusive as possible. One of the great no-no's in making films, you're told, "People are not supposed to look at the camera." They're supposed to look, I suppose, anywhere but at the camera. Face the other way, face to the left or the right or whatever, but never, never, never, never look at the camera. Well, I had people looking directly at the camera, talking directly to the camera.Don't change things. We changed almost everything. Use available light. Don't light things. Everything was lit. I can probably think of a couple of other things, but I think you get the idea.Now, what I did, any less, any more truthful than cinema verite? I would say no more, no less truthful. Very shortly after that, I made a film in northwest Florida, named after the town in which it was shot, Vernon, Florida. A town that I can honestly say is in the middle of nowhere, equidistant from Tallahassee and Pensacola. A place where no one in his right mind would go, let alone spend a great deal of time there.I went down there because of a story that I read in The New York Times about an insurance investigator who was chronicling the worst cases he had encountered in his 30-year career of insurance investigations. It was just a couple of lines in the article, it was mentioned in passing, a town called "Nub City," so named because of this extraordinary history of self-mutilation, people taking out insurance policies on themselves and then cutting off their arms and legs in order to collect the insurance.It's hard to know what I was thinking, or if in fact I was thinking at all. It was impossible to make this film. It's not as if you can actually walk up to somebody who's an amputee and ask them to start explaining in great detail how they lost a leg or an arm or, in some instances, both an arm and a leg, after taking out insurance policies on themselves. They have committed a crime. They're not going to talk about it.So the movie never got made. Although I did get beaten up by the son of a nubbie in Quincy, Florida. This is the only time that I was really beaten up, and I have to say it was unpleasant, and it hurt.So I ended up making a very vastly different film, different film altogether. Someone described it as "philosophy in the swamp," and that might be more or less true. I discovered all of this unexpected material from the people that I found down there, and one of the issues that fascinated me was ? I am now getting around to the subject of what we're supposed to be talking about here tonight ? truth, the avoidance of truth and self-deception. My view is that the truth is knowable, but often that we have a vested interest in not knowing, not seeing it, disregarding it, avoiding it. Consequently, my interest in truth had two parts ? an interest in the pursuit of truth and an interest in examining how people manage to avoid the truth in one way or another.Now, here is a clip from my second film, Vernon, Florida, and I included it because I believe it is relevant to the issue of self-deception.[SHOWS FILM CLIP]I was giving a lecture at Brandeis a while ago. I was showing clips from many of my films. This was one of them, Vernon, Florida, and I said, "Well, this is my example of self-deception." I said, ? 041b061a72


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