Title: The Blessing
Director: Hunter Robert Baker, Jordan Fein
Starring: Lawrence Gilmore, Caitlin Gilmore,
Runtime: 1 hr 14 mins
What It Is: This film tells the story of a father and daughter who navigate closing one chapter of their lives and preparing for the next. Lawrence is a very spiritual and traditional man whose income is reliant on the continued operation of a coal mountain. Caitlin in her last few months of high school recounts her childhood, her relationship with her father, and her lack of support as she fights against the status quo.
What We Think: Before getting into the narrative, directors Hunter Robert Baker and Jordan Fein and their team have produced a visually stunning piece and unfold the story in a way that doesn’t pit father and daughter against each other (i.e. my struggles are worse than yours) but instead show how they both operate in their own worlds alongside each other.
2019 is the year we all stop mystifying Native Americans and start taking responsibility for becoming more knowledgeable about their history and the current and continued persecution they face when dealing with non-natives. Particularly the government. With that said, The Blessing does an exemplary job giving the entire film over to the voices of Lawrence and Caitlin Gilmore. This isn’t a documentary saturated by conventionally educated expert testimony. In fact, this documentary isn’t trying to persuade the audience to do or believe anything. It takes the viewer by the hand and goes, “this may not be your life, this may not be my life, but it’s their life and they deserve to tell their story. To be heard.” There is plenty of commentary on the want to preserve land and heritage but the need to assimilate to survive economically. Caitlin is so uniquely her throughout. She’s aware of the hardships that go along with standing up to both Native and American ideologies, mainly those rooted in gender. Lawrence acknowledges his shortcomings within his spirituality, within being a father, but he also works towards how to make up for them. For a story that starts with the earth, it both literally and figuratively moves mountains.
Our Grade: A+, Without question, this is a must see. It is great that films like these are winning awards and gaining more public distribution, more mass distribution, and more appreciation from viewers. Along with the film, definitely check out more about the directors and their mission and goals on providing a platform for underserved voices to tell their stories.