Huntsville Station

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Huntsville Station
"Filippone and Meltzer find power in silence, content to watch and keeping themselves out of the frame, so that the emotions of those they capture can be fully channelled through the lens."

"It's really overwhelming for me," says one man. He's not alone, either physically or in sentiment, just one of dozens of inmates who have just been released from Huntsville State Penitentiary with a bus ticket and $100 release check and who are heading to the nearest Greyhound bus station.

Directors Chris Filippone, Jamie Meltzer largely take a fly-on-the-wall approach for their short documentary, showing how a small economy has sprung up around the men, who are immediately being hawked phones to call home and aftershave at two squirts for 50 cents. This moment at the bus station is a sort of limbo, with these ex-cons briefly poised between their old life and the new.

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For some, it's only been a handful of years, for one man, it's been 30 - "a lifetime" he says, before tears begin to roll down his face.

Filippone and Meltzer find power in silence, content to watch and keep themselves out of the frame, so that the emotions of those they capture can be fully channelled through the lens. The calm approach allows us to see the contrast between the tranquillity of the bus station, with its nearby church bells and birdsong and the turbulent feelings of the men as they grapple with what being free means to them.

The filmmakers take their time, lingering on faces and making space to consider the things the men are seeing too - a broken bracket, clouds in the sky - which serves to more fully connect us with their experience as they begin their reconnection to the world.

Reviewed on: 08 Jan 2021
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Huntsville Station packshot
Freshly released inmates contemplate their new-found freedom as they wait at the bus station near the jail.

Director: Chris Filippone, Jamie Meltzer

Year: 2020

Runtime: 14 minutes

Country: US

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