OPINION – The Fourth Annual DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival has drawn to a close, and in its relatively successful passing, some things may be gleaned from it, going forward.
Things like trying to remember not to pass a collection plate around after a film is shown.
OK, I digress a little there but it is worth noting that the festival has now reached a level where honest criticism comes as well as plaudit and praise. This is a sign, believe it or not, that it has come of age somewhat to being a real contender in the documentary film festival genre.
Anyone can press ahead, lauded with affirmation of a job well done, but every writer and filmmaker knows that it’s the honest critics who make them better. And the festival handled both accolade and criticism with professionalism and class. Expect nothing but more good things from this local event in years to come.
But, to be true, the real goodness of this festival is in the films and their makers.
It is to this I wish to speak.
I had the opportunity to meet the subject of the film, “An Ordinary Hero.” Her name is Joan Trumpauer Mulholland and by all accounts, she is an exemplary person. She certainly does not think so however. When the issue before her presented as a choice of what side of the civil-rights battle to be on, it was no decision at all.
Like so many Americans of our great lore, she forsook her own liberty and security to stand in the face of those who would take both from her for simply standing for the rights of others to have the same.
Even to the point of death row.
I asked Mulholland if she thought her work was carrying on through the years. Had the road that she and so many civil-rights activists paved been traveled upon much? She acquiesced that perhaps it had not been as much as it could or should be.
You see, she, like me, sees what is happening in our country: Our liberty remains, as Thomas Jefferson put it, the essence of the republic we may not yet keep.
We spoke of the Patriot Act, of drones, and of how government surveillance had become more powerful than they could have dreamed of in her day.
I think she, like me, would contend that the Founders of this land are turning in their graves – I know we are turning before we even reach our own.
As she walked away, my admiration of Mulholland turned to a thought from our conversation and a nagging question: Are there any such ordinary heroes today?
I thought of Indigo Klabanoff.
Klabanoff is a young woman and college student, resolute and ardent in her fervor to bring a club bearing Greek letters to the campus at Dixie State University. Exercising her student rights to freedom of expression and association in accordance with the First Amendment, and contending that DSU has a legal and moral obligation under the federal law not to interfere, she has instead been flat-out denied this right and the university administration has enacted suspicious and egregious policy amendments on-the-fly to cover themselves and their preferences. In addition, they have threatened her that if she continues, the campus security and their lawyers may take action, and her academic standing would be in jeopardy.
While it is not likely that she will end up on death row, she is certainly in a fight with a group of people as resolute as she is in their determination to disavow the law of the land in favor of the law of fabricated and fictitious policy.
Her’s is not an isolated case either, but she stands on the shoulders of giants, and if you ask me, does them proud.
Art imitates life. This is why the documentary film has such power in the collective psyche of the audience. Drawn into a story of a real person or event, parallels are drawn to our own stories and we are moved to action.
I wonder if Joan and Indigo met. And if so, I wonder what they talked about.
They have a lot in common.
See you out there.
Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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