Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  45 minutes
Date:  2016
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Color/BW:  Color
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Long Story Short

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Over 100 people at homeless shelters, food banks, adult literacy programs, and job training centers discuss their experiences of poverty.

Long Story Short

In the moving and immersive film LONG STORY SHORT, over 100 people at homeless shelters, food banks, adult literacy programs, and job training centers in Los Angeles and the Bay Area in Northern California discuss their experiences of poverty: why they are poor, how it feels, and what they think should be done about American poverty and homelessness today. Numerous interviews are stitched together to form a polyphonic account of American poverty told from the inside.

MacArthur Grantee Natalie Bookchin, an artist whose work has been shown at the Pompidou Centre, the Whitney Museum and the Tate, uses the film to amplify the voices of the displaced and dispossessed. While individuals whom Bookchin filmed in separate spaces appear onscreen in their own visual spaces, mirroring the isolation of their experiences, words flow between them like a musical ensemble. Together in the film for the first time, Americans who are rarely acknowledged or listened to form a virtual collective.

'An original piece of editing, which exploits the split screen principle in a way that is as pertinent as it is original.' - Telerama

'A hundred ways of being poor and a hundred ways of saying it close-up combine to form a polyphonic account. The hundred people in tenuous housing in California who give similar statements in LONG STORY SHORT respond to one another, directly or indirectly, in a convergence of people, whether isolated individuals or those placed in groups and aligned. They are intertwined, they resonate with one another, and it is this chorus of minimalist yet intelligent writing that was awarded.' - En attendant Nadeau, Journal of Literature, Ideas and the Arts

'I was hugely impressed by LONG STORY SHORT, its gripping detail and precision. It's a masterpiece of editing, very virtuosic. Great work!' - Yvonne Rainer

'A surprising film, an incredible work of montage on the collective power of speech.' - Maria Bonsanti, Artistic Director, Cinema du Reel

'[The film's] candid but humanizing approach interrupts the prejudice and pity commonly directed toward individuals living in poverty, revealing instead the long-term, systemic nature of economic disenfranchisement.' - Jennifer Gonzalez, Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, UC Santa Cruz

'Explores poverty in the United States with a bold narrative technique.... The great value of the film is not only in the strength of its witnesses, and not only the impressive work of selecting and editing the sound and image, but that the ingenious form of its conception is tailored to its ambitions.' - Diego Batlle, Otros Cines

'Reveals the crushing collective reality of poverty in the United States. It sizzles with calm rage!' - Trebor Scholz, Associate Professor of Culture and Media Studies, The New School

'Perfectly pitched to generate lively discussion in any classroom across a range of fields and disciplines... not to be missed.' - Caren Kaplan, Professor, American Studies, UC Davis


** Grand Prize, Cinema du Reel Film Festival
** Documentary Silver Award, Athens Film and Video Festival
** Programmer's Award for Short Documentary, Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
** Documentary Fortnight, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)


Main credits

Bookchin, Natalie (film director)
Bookchin, Natalie (editor of moving image work)
Bookchin, Natalie (film producer)

Other credits

Director, editor, producer, Natalie Bookchin.

Distributor credits

A film by Natalie Bookchin

Docuseek2 subjects

African-American Studies
American Studies
Anthropology and Archaeology
Criminal Justice, Law and Legal Studies
Human Rights
Communication and Media Studies
Psychology and Mental Health
Urban Studies
Women's Studies
American (U.S.) Studies

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Closed Captioned
Criminal Justice
Economic Sociology
Human Rights
Media Studies
Urban Studies
Women's Studies


; "Long Story Short"; Icarus Films; poverty; homelessness; Los Angeles; Bay Area; California; Ethics; Natalie Bookchin; hunger; food banks;

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