These days it’s not hard to sympathise with the feeling that everything is on fire and everything is not fine. As a second-hand viewer there is more than enough bigotry, injustice and brutality to witness, but Roberto Minervini’s documentary What You Gonna Do When The World’s On Fire? does an incredible job of making that chaos personal, political and powerful.
Filmed around New Orleans in the summer of 2017, World’s on Fire entwines itself within communities stricken by the long-term effects of institutional racism and the short-term spike in far-right sentiment that has brought increased police brutality and put a fascist in the White House. The police’s murder of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge in 2016, and the decapitation and burning of Jeremy Jackson in Jackson in 2017 aren’t abstract events, but atrocities that took place on the doorstep of this documentary’s cast.
It’s easy to become desensitised to these kinds of horrors, through their distance, number, or the depressing reality that progress seems impossible, but Minervini humanises the communities that are living this struggle.
He shows us the sweet relationship between half-brothers Ronaldo (14) and Titus (9) which is marred by the spectre of violence that threatens their innocence. He walks alongside the members of the New Black Panther Party as they support traumatised people of colour and protest police brutality. Most effectively of all, he follows bar owner Judy, a truly unique individual who puts the fire in this doc.
She is a fierce, compassionate woman, who’s had her fair share of knocks in life but still continues fighting for the well-being of those around her. Several heart-breaking conversations she has prove that the greatest wisdom and kindness can often be found in the most humble of places. An essential and inspiring look at communities living through police brutality.
CAST: Judy Hill, Kevin Goodman, Dorothy Hill, Ashely King
DIRECTOR: Roberto Minervini
WRITER: Roberto Minervini
SYNOPSIS: What You Gonna Do When The World’s On Fire is the story of a community of black people in the American South during the summer of 2017, when a string of brutal killings of black men sent …