Anger


Maxi Cohen was selected to direct the sin of Anger as part of the Seven Women Seven Sins series. She began by putting an advertisement in The Village Voice newspaper in New York City reading, "What makes you angry?" Along with Joel Gold, she recorded the conversations with the citizens who replied to the ad. As a result she has captured a human emotion at its core and takes the viewer on an emotional roller coaster. Within the twenty minutes of her film we are witness to a number of people's true emotion and different levels and degrees of anger.

After viewing Anger for the first time you are left in a state of shock. You have just witnessed people's disturbing secrets and struggles. From the group of twenty year olds hatred of their neighbors in New York City, to a former cop who now despises the state of New York, Maxi Cohen has captured individual's anger at its deepest form. After seeing these characters' hatred, you now are given a person who is enraged at the fact that they have to decide if they are going to live as a woman or a man. You begin to imagine what it must be like to live in this person's life, and by the time she begins to cry hysterically and mentions she is living with her sister and her daughter in a very small apartment with nothing to call her own, you cannot avoid being moved by this train wreck of human emotion. "This is the very virtue of good documentary filmmaking", (details). The way Cohen can hit you over the head with this one type of anger and then follow it with a story of a man who was confused and upset with how his mother reacted to his curious thoughts. But from this anger, sprung an alternative style of relationship of which filled a large gap in his life. With each story revealed we are given a different look at anger and the way people can express it. From raising their voices to shoving it deep down inside, people deal with anger in many different ways.

The finale of the film presents anger in a different light than the rest of the previous stories. Most of us correlate anger with raising our voice and becoming verbally or physically violent. Here the viewer finally gets a look at the common idea of anger. The couple's back and forth arguments along with the constant interruptions results in name calling and complete and utter disgust for each other. It shows us this emotion can be stirred up instantaneously and can over power all other emotions within the film itself and brought up in the viewer as well.
Above all else content is what is important in Cohen's films. The editing was perfect in how the stories were strung together. The order was essential in pulling the emotion out of the viewer and succeeded in creating the roller coaster like pace of the film. The camera work as done here by Joel Gold, is exactly what it needs to be, light zooms, and tight shots of faces to never miss a hint of emotion. With the simple use of a newspaper advertisement, and a camera Maxi Cohen has put together a moving piece that will burn into your memory, spark debate, and change your views on others' emotions.

Just as playing with video techniques or animation, this is video art at its finest. Her documentary was awarded Best Short Film at the Montreal Festival of New Cinema, the Award of Special Distinction in Tokyo and the Special Jury Award at the San Francisco Film Festival.

Having just picked Maxi Cohen to work with, on a name similarity was the best thing that could have happen. Being able to see a film such as Anger gave me such an appreciation for this type of avant guard filmmaking. Every time I have watched the film I am amazed how in 20 minutes something can be this thought provoking and powerful.

--Clifford Shoemaker, 2003

Maxi Cohen