Lets face it, I watch horror films for lots of reasons, but the main one is to escape reality. Lately, the headlines in the news are often more terrifying than anything your average director can dream up – well – maybe except David Lynch… I don’t know what the hell is going on in his head!
While I have some strong feelings about politics, I generally try to avoid sharing them because I find the entire business completely exhausting. Watching images of the House and Congress fight so much that nothing gets accomplished is not only ridiculous, it is embarrassing on every level. I, like many, are done with politics. David Smick, director of the documentary, Stars and Strife, is frustrated, too, and seeks to find a way out this mess. But how on earth can we hope to change anyone’s opinion when the country is so fiercely divided?
Documentary examines the rise of anger and hate swelling in American culture featuring interviews with activists, elected officials and business leaders.
The film is anchored by the soothing presence of Smick, along with interviews and opinions from the right and the left, including Hawk Newsome (the head of New York’s BLM chapter), Alan Greenspan, James Baker III, Alice Rifkin, Kenneth Langone, Leon Panetta, and synagogue shooting survivor Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein. Stars and Strife is fast-paced, ensuring that the viewer is never bored, and includes enough levity to make you want to keep watching.
The beating heart of the film comes from the interview with Derek Black, the son of Don Black, who founded the white supremacy website, Stormfront. Derek was born and raised as the heir apparent to the white supremacy movement. But one day, he walked away. He changed after he had enrolled in a cheap college in Florida. It was the most liberal in the state and 20% non-white. Derek soon began to absorb, learn, and quietly understand things he had never been exposed to or really thought about. The change took place over many dinners and thoughtful conversations with students willing enough to reach out and challenge his beliefs. Derek would go on to denounce white supremacy, showing that anyone can change their way of thinking, no matter how radical it is.
It’s the ability and willingness to listen and understand that can save us as a nation, too. The ability to care about one another. America is a country where you can be Black, Jewish, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Croatian, Spanish, Chinese, anything, or just a dreamer… and still just be AMERICAN. We just need to be reminded of it sometimes.
Stars and Strife is a film that is worth seeing for anyone that’s just fed up.