Saturday, August 15, 2015
LITTLE WHITE LIE (2014)
Directed By: Lacey Schwartz & James Adolphus
Cinematography By: James Adolphus
Editor: Erik Dugger & Toby Shimin
A film about denial, race, family secrets and a search for identity.
Little White Lie tells Lacey Schwartz's story of growing up in a typical upper-middle-class Jewish household in Woodstock, NY, with loving parents and a strong sense of her Jewish identity - despite the questions from those around her about how a white girl could have such dark skin. She believes her family's explanation that her looks were inherited from her dark-skinned Sicilian grandfather. But when her parents abruptly split, her gut starts to tell her something different.
The film goes by quick, though you suspect where it is going. As the beginning clues you into something not quite right exactly. So that you are waiting for that aha moment or that epiphany.
The film is quietly powerful, but luckily not devastating. Dramatic, yet it has an ease.
Though wisely the director who is also the subject. Decides to fill in the story a little with more background so that you understand a little where she is coming from and why it took her so long to ask questions.
I applaud her for her bravery and for confronting all involved. Though they sometimes still seem to baby step. Almost of embarrassed to be admitting it on screen.
What comes across is a story of love that crosses barriers bit also a story of family and not necessarily blood always as to what make a family and what makes it whole.
I saw another documentary earlier this year. On a similar subject that was directed by the subjects husband. Only that film dealt more with foster cat and being adopted by a white family. Not actually being born into one and noticeably different and having questions about your race.
I find it uplifting that the older the director/subject gets she finds herself identifying more with the race that was neglected in her upbringing whole acknowledging the one she grew up with. I also find it shocking that in her youth not only her family but even her friends never brought up her race or the fact she was different. Only her mixed race boyfriend seemed to be the only one to question her and pushed her to question herself. Though she was still scared to confront the truth and Hurt the people who raised her.
Yet when she went to college all the black students naturally took her as one of their own unquestioned and there she really learned about the black experience, racism and being treated differently.
Now while I am not always a fan of the subjects directing the documentary. Fearing they will sugar coat or not go certain places. Fearing exploiting something personal for entertainment. This one works to the better circumstances of subject as director. As she gets information and interviews and honest declarations from friends and family who might be guards talking to a stranger or refuse to answer certain questions, but as she looks for the truth it is kind of like they owe it to hers as essentially it is her life story. And she certainly pulls no punches. Yet there is no gritty story to be told either.
It's a nice revelatory documentary with meaning and personality.