Monday, November 12, 2012

Madison-Morgan Cultural Center elects Drivers Wanted

On Tuesday night many people across the country were standing in long lines waiting to cast their vote in the 2012 elections. As one who had cast her ballot early I had much more exciting plans; to attend the screening of Drivers Wanted, a film by Joshua Z Weinstein, at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center. Never having seen this venue in person before, I was truly blown away. Built in 1895, the building is a gorgeous example of the Romanesque Revival style with glowing red brick exterior and wooden interiors. The people of Madison, Georgia and the surrounding area are lucky to have this gem in their midst.

I arrived to find all the local fans of the center and the film series milling about in the lobby area. It was clear that this was not just a place of the arts but a community center. The screening began at 7:00 pm with a showing of Joshua's short documentary film, I Beat Mike Tyson. The film was a quick but effective glimpse into the boxing world, a scene I had no prior exposure to. It was fascinating to see how this occupation challenges those who have chosen to walk the boxing path.

The next film up was Drivers Wanted, a feature documentary about taxi drivers in New York. It was amazing to me throughout the film, how much it seemed like not just a portrait of a specific job in a specific city, but also of people as a whole. Of the work of making a living and providing for family. And in that way holding this screening on election night made a crazy kind of sense to me. Throughout the election we hear politicians reference individual stories of triumph and hardship. It is through these stories of hardship that our elected officials communicate to us how they would make our hardships easier to bear. I wonder what the candidates would have said to the subjects of Drivers Wanted or I Beat Mike Tyson to alleviate their seemingly endless struggles.

As the film wrapped up and the audience applauded, Joshua came out to lead his own quick Q&A session. Joshua started it off by asking all of us if we had seen a connection between the films. I immediately thought about my ruminations on the election and the promise of prosperity for all hard-working Americans. The Q&A continued and we discovered that there were several individuals who had direct knowledge of taxi driver life. Their insight really flushed out the characters of the film even further.

Afterwards, Joshua shared with me that hearing about other people's experiences as they relate to the film is one of the most rewarding responses to his work. I can only assume this is true of most documentary filmmakers. After all they dedicate their lives to documenting the human spirit in one way or another.

As I drove away, now listening to the election results on the radio, I thought again about the struggles of life. Whether its to provide for a family, to share your experiences with another person through film, or to lead a country. We all strive towards our goals and we all need one another to achieve them.