In Monrovia, a small town in red-state Indiana, more than 97% of the population is white. During the presidential elections, over 65% of its inhabitants voted in favor of Donald Trump. What does an average day in town look like? What values prevail over there? Octogenarian documentalist Frederick Wiseman travels with his camera to Monrovia to show us its daily reality.
After presenting In Jackson Heights in 2016 and Ex Libris in 2018, Americana completes its Wiseman trilogy with Monrovia, Indiana, a documentary that can be seen as the sinister opposite of In Jackson Heights. While the latter depicts one of the most multicultural, vibrant and free neighborhoods in the country, Monrovia, Indiana shows us the routines and rituals of a conservative, protectionist, Catholic community, completely isolated from the actual social and cultural movements. With an observing eye, and in no case judging what is shown through his lens (something that is left for the audience to do), Wiseman shows a wedding, a funeral, one of the most bizarre Masonic ceremonies and different town committee meetings, without forgetting about more everyday scenes such as visits to the supermarkets, and the purchase and sale of weapons.
What the audience gets from these images is almost pure terror. Although we might consider this all-white, conservative, macho and obese community as stupid and ignorant at times, it is that same community that has put Donald Trump in the White House. It is a powerful group of people that we know exists, but that the films and series do not dare to show in details. Without ulterior conceptions or motives, Wiseman has brought to light this white trash culture so that the audience can formulate its own idea about it in full knowledge of the cause. Screened at the Venice Festival, Monrovia, Indiana is a fascinating two hours and 20 minutes that bring viewers closer to a daily life that seems to come from the past, in true caméra vérité style.
2018: Venice Film Festival
2018: Florida Film Critics Circle Awards: Best Documentary