The Hottest August

image from the film The Hottest August

image from the film THE HOTTEST AUGUST

Video Recording of the Q&AWed with filmmaker Brett Story (9/9/20 @ 7:30)

A complex portrait of a city and its inhabitants, The Hottest August gives us a window into the collective consciousness of the present. The film’s point of departure is one city over one month: New York City, including its outer boroughs, during August 2017. It’s a month heavy with the tension of a new President, growing anxiety over everything from rising rents to marching white nationalists, and unrelenting news of either wildfires or hurricanes on every coast. The film pivots on the question of futurity: what does the future look like from where we are standing? And what if we are not all standing in the same place? The Hottest August offers a mirror onto a society on the verge of catastrophe, registering the anxieties, distractions, and survival strategies that preoccupy ordinary lives.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked the film the third best documentary of 2019: “In August of 2017, filmmaker Brett Story (The Prison in Twelve Landscapes) went to New York and asked a random assortment of city dwellers—stoop sitters, skate rats, Staten Island ex-cops, fishermen, economists, everyday folk—for their thoughts on the future. The result is a first-rate city symphony, and a rare look at Gotham from the ground up. But it’s also a loose, hodgepodge portrait of a center that can’t hold, in which everything from the effects of climate change to economic disparity to our current uncivil discourse is filtered through a collective sense of anxiety. It’s somehow life-affirming and apocalyptic at the same time. This is how the world ends, the doc suggests, not with a bang but with a resigned shrug, a softball-game scuffle and the sound of the closing subway doors.”

Filmmaker Brett Story is a non-fiction filmmaker and geographer based out of Toronto and New York whose work explores landscapes of power and capitalist crises. Her films have screened at True/False, Oberhausen, Hot Docs, the Viennale, and Dok Leipzig, among other international festivals. She is also a prolific non-fiction writer and radio producer whose work has appeared in The NationCamera Obscura, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Brett's films include Land of Destiny (2010), The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (2016), and CamperForce (2017). The Prison in Twelve Landscapes was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and was a nominee for Best Canadian Feature Documentary at the Canadian Screen Awards. The documentary, an exploration of the external geographies of the U.S. prison system, was a New York Times’ critics pick and was broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens in 2017.

Brett holds a PhD in geography from the University of Toronto and is the author of a forthcoming book, The Prison Out of Place: Mapping Carceral Power across Neoliberal America. Brett was a 2016 Sundance Institute Art of Nonfiction Fellow and a 2018 MacDowell Colony Fellow. She currently teaches documentary film and video as an Assistant Professor at Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts.


Ithaca Premiere

The Hottest August | Official Trailer from Grasshopper Film on Vimeo.