Short Take: “Blood of Man” – Atlanta Film Festival review

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Lesley Warren and Cooper Guy star in “Blood of Man”

Right from the film’s first frame, as an angry mother washes her son’s mouth out with soap, I identified with “Blood of Man.” Writer-director-producer Ben Watts’ film takes place in rural Georgia in the late 1960’s—a different world than my suburban Atlanta upbringing in the 1980’s-90’s, but the same ideals regarding the power of prayer, decency and moral obligation still ring true.

The late 60’s will look different depending on where you focus your gaze. Look to New York and you would find the slick, modern mood of “Mad Men.” Look to Atlanta and you would see a complex mosaic of race, class and power struggle amidst the Civil Rights movement. Look to the countryside and you’ll find a slow pace and a simple life, but also the beginnings of a disenchantment brought on by the world seemingly getting smaller and meaner. “Blood of Man” captures that same rural sentiment with elegance. Watts shot the film in his hometown of LaGrange.

Blues and gospel are the sounds we hear and the sepia tint reminds us of the summer haze and humidity that, at least in Georgia, you don’t ever really need a reminder of. Some smooth camerawork is highlighted in a few dolly shots at the beginning. The cast, led by youngsters William Harrison and Cooper Guy, is strong. Watts goes out on a limb by ending the film without emotional resolution—the final moments clearly displaying the weight of guilt, as we hear a young boy pleading, “tell me it wasn’t my fault.”

“Blood of Man” played at the Atlanta Film Festival last month, one of several Georgia shorts selected from among over 2,000 submissions from all over the world.

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