The Hottest August

The Hottest August

Brett Story
Canada/US
2019
92 minutes

It’s August in New York City and the otherwise warm and inviting cityscape is permeated by an undercurrent of unease. Beautifully composed images of New Yorkers at work, at home, at the beach, and on the subway give a glimpse of the ordinary lives of these urban dwellers living in an era far from ordinary. Climate change, unemployment, race and class tensions, and loss of community — Brett Story’s simple questions of the New Yorkers she encounters around the different boroughs reveal that these issues are on everyone’s lips, and the languid summer moments feel like the quiet before a great storm.

New Yorkers remain hopeful that they will get a good job and a nice home, start a family, or go on a holiday, but in the same breath they utter their deep fears about the future in our increasingly precarious climate. Through casual conversations and quiet scenes, we get a sense both of deep anxiety and incredible resilience as everyone attempts to make sense of a rapidly changing world.

DOXA audiences may remember Brett Story’s artful and complex study of hidden geographies, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (DOXA 2016, winner of the Colin Low Award for Best Canadian Documentary). -KO