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BLOOD IN THE FACE

USA, 1991 (MIFF 1991, Documentaries)

Director: Anne Bohlen, Kevin Rafferty, James Ridgeway

In this shocking close-up of America's white-supremacist movement, the members of the American Nazi Party, the Klu Klux Klan, and the Aryan Nations are chillingly relaxed, even genial, as they speak about the need to return the U.S. to a state of racial purity.

Most of the film was shot during the white-supremacist convention held at a medium size barn in the Michigan countryside. The participants range from housewives to longhaired kids, but most of them are blank, middle-aged men in glasses and moustaches who speak with all the rabid ferocity of members of the local PTA.

Few of the Aryan cultists here express anything approaching overt malice. In a sense, this movement has gone past conventional racial hostility and into a kind of gonzo sugenics. Many speak frankly about the primal anxiety that drives the white-supremacist movement - the fear that people of Anglo-Saxon descent, whose alleged racial superiority is expressed by their ability to show "blood in the face" (that is, to blush), are being wiped out.

The movie includes some fascinating footage of George Lincoln Rockwell, who spearheaded the American Nazi movement of the late '50s. There are also clips of the chillingly telegenic David Duke, the former Klu Klux Klan Imperial Wizard who, in 1989, was elected to the Louisiana State House of Representatives. His entrance into the arena of legitimate politics should make one thing clear; that the people this movie reveals with such creepy intimacy can't quite be written off as irrelevant fanatics.

Controversial in nature and acting as a double-edged sword, Blood In The Face minimizes its editorializing, allowing the words and actions of the individuals to speak for themselves. "We have nothing to hide" is the message reiterated. Blood In The Face gives is the opportunity to place faces on the enemy and understand who and what they are.

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