The Panola Project

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The Panola Project
"The directors also capture the day of the inoculations, which is likely to serve a secondary purpose to jab-hesitant viewers, since it shows people receiving the vaccine in minutes with no ill-effects."

One of the joys of short films is that they are often able to shine a spotlight on lives and deeds that would otherwise slip past unnoticed. Rachael DeCruz and Jeremy S Levine's The Panola Project is the perfect example of that - offering a biographical snapshot that also acts as an upbeat endorsement of the Covid vaccine.

At its heart is Dorothy Oliver - a woman on a mission. Her town of Panola, Alabama, has a population of 350, the majority of whom are black - something that Oliver says "puts you on the back burner" in governmental terms, and which has led to her determined campaign to see her whole community jabbed against coronavirus. DeCruz and Levine offer quiet observation as Oliver goes about her task, calling round the town by phone and dropping in on people in a bid to gather enough names - 40 - to ensure the vaccine comes to them. Otherwise, the community, many of whom do not have access to cars, is looking at a 39 mile trip to the nearest vaccination point.

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Oliver is every inch the unsung hero, persistently chipping away at people's resistance. We see her persuasiveness in action as one young man, less than keen on the whole idea because, you suspect, like many people he has a fear of needles, gets a pleasantly delivered but unremitting brow-beating until he agrees.

The directors also capture the day of the inoculations, which is likely to serve a secondary purpose to jab-hesitant viewers, since it shows people receiving the vaccine in minutes with no ill-effects. With its upbeat funky score from Jermaine 'Mainframe' Fletcher, this is a celebration of the way a small piece of determination can make a big difference.

Reviewed on: 27 Jan 2022
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Profile of Dorothy Oliver and her tireless work to get residents of the town of Panola vaccinated against Covid.

Director: Rachael DeCruz, Jeremy S Levine

Writer: Rachael DeCruz, Jeremy S. Levine

Starring: Dorothy Oliver

Year: 2022

Runtime: 17 minutes

Country: US

Festivals:

Sundance 2022

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