Price: $310.00

    Code: 2355

    Directed by Deborah Stratman
    2009, 52 Minutes

    With the excuse of freedom, we lose so many things. — Silvio Barile

    Taking its title from the last line of the first stanza of the National Anthem, O'er The Land is a haunting meditation on patriotism, violence and militarism in American culture.

    Directed by noted experimental filmmaker Deborah Stratman, this evocative documentary explores the ways in which Americans have come to understand freedom and the increasingly technological reiterations of manifest destiny.

    Stratman captures the marching-band battle cries of the country with a strong, controlled tone that proves its point but is extremely playful, too. She documents the wild, wild worlds of gun shows—ones where you can fire machine guns in the forest and literally blow stuff up, reenactments of famous battles with historically accurate weapons and clothes, border disputes, and the organized frenzy of cheerleaders and motor homes.

    The documentary is seemingly ‘interrupted' by the incredible story of Col. William Rankin who in 1959, was forced to eject from his F8U fighter jet at 48,000 feet without a pressure suit, only to get trapped for 45 minutes in the up and down drafts of a massive thunderstorm. Remarkably, he survived. Rankin's story represents a non-material, metaphysical kind of freedom. He was vomited up by his own jet, that American icon of progress and strength, but violent purging does not necessarily lead to reassessment or redirection.

    O'er the Land is concerned with the sudden, simple, thorough ways that events can separate us from the system of things, and place us in a kind of limbo. Like when we fall. Or cross a border. Or get shot. Or saved. The film forces together culturally acceptable icons of heroic national tradition with the suggestion of unacceptable historical consequences, so that seemingly benign locations become zones of moral angst, and in the process, raising troubling questions about the hallowed concept of freedom that is so deeply ingrained in our culture.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival, 2009
    * Official Selection, Rotterdaman Film Festival, 2009
    * Winner, Best of Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, 2009
    * Winner, Best in Festival, Iowa City International Documentary Film Festival, 2009
    * Winner, Best International On Screen Film, Images Film Festival, 2009
    * Winner, Best Feature Documentary, L’Alternativa Independent Film Festival, 2009
    * Winner, New Vision Award, CPH:DOX International Documentary Film Festival, 2009
    * Nominee – Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, Cinema Eye Honors, 2009


    “[Three stars] Filmmaker Deborah Stratman meditates on the subject of freedom in the United States in carefully framed set pieces involving 18th century war re-enactments, a high school football game, an RV sales lot, and more. Recommended.” - Video Librarian

    “A highly recommended film that belongs in any library. Though it may be difficult to describe, Deborah Stratman’s O’er the Land is definitely a unique experience. It may take a while to put the pieces together while watching, but there is not an ounce of fat or an unimportant frame in the film. The juxtaposition of sight and sound are similar to the successful elements of Michael Moore documentaries. Unlike his films, O’er the Land provokes without sensation. Her eye as a filmmaker captures the irony and humor of that which is solely American. She leaves the viewer to decide whether or not that is a good thing. As an artist of uncompromising integrity Stratman presents her vision without judgment and allows her viewers to determine the truth.” - Educational Media Reviews Online

    “It is because of its sometimes ambiguous yet highly evocative juxtapositions that Stratman’s film is so effective. [O’er The Land] would be as useful in a film studies class as in a political science course. However it is received, Stratman’s film demands attention as a unique, remarkable examination of American culture.” - Counterpoise

    “When [Deborah Stratman] raises her camera, seeing is already thinking. In all her work there is a quality of watchful attention, an outraged politic, an experience lived through the body and searched out again through her camera double.” - Millenneum Film Journal

    “Deborah Stratman has created a beautiful meditation on militarized culture, an elegant, logical strand, an oasis in a festival of generally more hurried films.” - Paste Magazine

    “Deborah Stratman’s films feature multiple explosions and a jarring mix of noises and near-silent drones, so it is curious to also discover that an endearing innocence often prevails, a longing for some kind of miracle—a flying saucer or a goblin—just around the bend. This sense of wonder remains at the heart of O’er the Land.” – Artforum

    “Stratman has been steadily crafting a poetic filmmaking practice rich with nuance and ripe for reflection, and her essayistic films reward careful, contemplative viewing.” – LA Weekly

    “An avant-garde meditation on dubious American notions of masculinity and patriotism.” – Cineaste

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