Review by Élie Castiel for KinoCulture Montréal
The same question is asked of Americans of all social classes, those we rarely hear. Their responses constitute an unusual journey through an authentic America.
Voices of Freedom immediately strikes with its cinematic form. The filming, often from the interior of a car used as technical support, recalls certain films of the 1960s genre, of which Gualtiero Jacopetti remains the inveterate singer, the ultimate reference. A forgotten category and largely overlooked by filmmakers of new generations, except those interested in genre cinema. And even there!
America naked and violent
It must be emphasized that Jason Rodi is much closer to the Ron Fricke and the Godfrey Reggio of this world, who are also unique in their filmic approach, inventors of the contemplative documentary essay. Even in their films, you could recognize some slight influences from Mondo films.
Here, it is not simply a question of filming acerbically, brutally or aggressively, but of establishing the relationship between the camera and the filmed; not in any gratuitous balance of power/power relationship, but through a tacit, almost unspeakable complicity, which cannot be seen with the naked eye, but can be guessed by the eyes. Hence the director's desire to involve the spectator, to encourage him to think.
In the words of the speakers, all from an America who do not express themselves on the screen, that we rarely hear, not to say "never", words that seem learned to us. While some are adamant about the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, others tackle the question of racism, individual freedom, the chance to live in a unique country, still young, which continues to build. There is also talk of newcomers, of those who have left their places of origin for warmer skies.
« Here, it is not simply a question of filming acerbically, brutally or aggressively, but of establishing the relationship between the camera and the filmed; not in any gratuitous balance of power/power relationship, but through a tacit, almost unspeakable"
A single question is asked of all the participants of the film: "What does the word freedom mean to you? " We are hardly surprised at the multiple responses, the speeches that push ourselves to review our own interpretation.
The camera passes through California, Nevada, Maryland, New York County, Maine and other states. From one region to another, from one territory to another, different ways of living and seeing the world. But a common denominator remains: a sort of melancholy, nostalgia for a country once united and which, for many reasons, is no longer what it used to be. There is a sadness, a dismay of some of these speakers. Hence these sequences towards the end of the film where pagan rituals intervene as a substitute for the existential void. Because the America filmed by Jason Rodi seems to be the one of the « nothingness ».
And it is precisely this loss of identity, this missed meeting with History that interested the documentary filmmaker, a quebecois cinephile fascinated (like many foreigners) by this America at once superb and violent, an inconsolable America when it comes to violating the rights acquired following the numerous battles fought, an impulsive, courageous and instantaneous America which is constantly being built as well by the heirs of the first pioneers as by the newcomers. Rodi is aware of this and offers us an essential documentary, remarkable for the simplicity of its form and most of all, delivering a conciliatory message, a proposition which, today, is greatly lacking.
And the most fascinating thing is to note the enthusiasm of the documentary maker, signing the editing, the sound and other filmic elements in order to ensure that the result remains according to the precepts of his media, NOMADslow.tv, that is to say/meaning free from any external influence.