Movie Diary 9/12/2021

The People vs. Agent Orange (Alan Adelson, Kate Taverna, 2021); and Missing in Brooks County (Jeff Bemiss, Lisa Molomot, 2020). Still on a documentary committee. These are two lacerating features about infuriating policies, the first about the effects and after-effects of Agent Orange and its chemical components (not merely as used in Vietnam but also in Oregon), the second about people dying in the Texas deserts after crossing the Rio Grande. Both films have a steady, dogged pulse, presenting evidence and human stories to make the case. “If you start calling them people, then it starts getting to you,” someone says in the latter film about the “illegals” coming to America, a line that could be the mission statement of a certain kind of documentary film, of which these two are sterling examples.