Being at the right place at the right time is everything in the creation of documentary film, and the producers of “Alt Right: Age of Rage” made some strategic decisions that helped to shape their successful documentary.
First, they decided to follow two political agitators during the first half of 2017, just after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
The film sets up a dialectical clash between alt-right activist Richard Spencer, who takes Trump’s election as a sign that the time is right to organize.
His opponent is Daryle Lamont Jenkins, a black political leader of the antifa or anti-fascist left, who seems in the film to be working overtime, if somewhat unsuccessfully, at looking as menacing as possible.
Ultimately, they square off against one another in Charlottesville, Va., on August 11-12, 2017, where the filmmaker’s narrative comes into focus.
From the nighttime torchlight parade that eerily resounds with the chants of “Jews Will Not Replace Us” to the final moments of deadly violence that climax their “Unite The Right” rally, we are abruptly confronted with the full meaning of “Alt-Right: Age of Rage.”
The makers of the film had their cameras rolling when James Alex Fields Jr. drove his automobile at full speed down a narrow Charlottesville street, killing a 32-year-old paralegal, Heather Heyer, and injuring three dozen others. Their video of those several terrifying minutes makes up the stunning climax of the film. Fields was later convicted of numerous charges, including first-degree murder.
If we need yet another look at where America is headed in these perilous times, “Alt-Right: Age of Rage” is a timely, and at times frightening, reminder.
Bob Bahr is with the Center for Media and the Moving Image and frequently lectures on film and modern society and regularly contributes to the AJT.