The Hottest August
2019, 95 minutes, Digital
Director: Brett Story
The Hottest August is a curious map of a city’s fraught consciousness. With an anthropological conceit, the film offers a survey of humanity on the brink of extinction. The threats of climate change, late capitalism, and newly emboldened hatred and racism loom large over director Brett Story’s interviews with New Yorkers from all five boroughs in August 2017. As Story questions her subjects from behind the camera, a vision emerges of a society incapable of processing the changes rapidly besieging it. Existentialism channeled by a detached philosopher-narrator and a score that oozes with anxiety is complimented by the film’s playful observations on its human subjects. The film is attune to all their quirks and habits, picking up on their smallest gesticulations. Their eccentricities, preoccupations, and pain come through with warmth and generosity.
Exquisite compositions set off the urban habitat in surprising ways, and Story frequently finds visual interest in large-scale scenes: expansive cityscapes, endless rows of windows and rooftops; skies cloudy with foreboding, yet filled with painterly beauty. This global scope reflects the film’s structural methods, which abandon a singular narrative thread for a collage of experience and emotion. It’s a time capsule that’s observations, cynical and tender alike, will reverberate well into the future. (Julia Gunnison)
True/False Film Festival
South by Southwest Film Festival
Maryland Film Festival