#426) …No Lies (1973)
Directed & Written by Mitchell Block
Class of 2008
No film clips that can be embedded here, so…here’s another screenshot?
NYU student Mitchell Block takes cinéma vérité to a new and uncomfortable level in “…No Lies”. A filmmaker (Alec Hirschfeld) points his camera at a friend (Shelby Leverington) as she prepares to go out for the night. The conversation begins innocently enough, but takes a turn when the friend reveals that a stranger raped her the previous week. She describes the circumstances, as well as the lack of support from a witness and the police. The friend eventually tries to change the subject, but the cameraman keeps pressing her for details, even suspecting that the event never took place. In its brief running time, “…No Lies” quickly turns from run-of-the-mill student film to an unflinching look at an all-too-common issue.
I was a little apprehensive about covering “…No Lies”. For starters, rape and its victims are not topics I feel qualified to discuss (nor is it appropriate for me to write an irreverent blog piece about). Secondly, during my viewing I wasn’t sure if this film was actual cinéma vérité or scripted. Once I learned that the short was scripted (some releases include rehearsal takes), I was a bit upset. It seemed irresponsible for Block et al to make up a very real traumatic experience for a student film. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that “…No Lies” was eliciting a very emotional response from me. The kind very few films can. So, on that ground, I can give “…No Lies” a pass for NFR inclusion for its strong emotional resonance, its daring to bring conversations about rape to the forefront, and its representation of documentary producer Mitchell Block.
Shout Outs: The movie our protagonist is heading out to see is future NFR entry and film school staple “The Night of the Hunter”.
Everybody Gets One: Mitchell Block got his BA and MFA in film production at New York University. Shortly after “…No Lies”, Block founded Direct Cinema Ltd., which produces and distributes documentary films. Actor Shelby Leverington had a 40 year acting career starting with “…No Lies”. Although usually just a day player in film and TV, Leverington’s raw, nuanced performance in this film grants her the NFR status eluding many of the big name stars she has acted alongside. Cameraman Alec Hirschfeld would go on to be a cameraman for such NFR entries as “Mean Streets”, “Taxi Driver” and “The Terminator”.
Seriously, Oscars?: Although “…No Lies” didn’t receive an Oscar nomination, Block would eventually be nominated in 2010 for producing the documentary short “Poster Girl”. Block is also a member of AMPAS’ Documentary Screening Committee, which votes on which documentaries are shortlisted for Oscar consideration. Block’s membership has occasionally been considered a conflict of interest, especially when Direct Cinema productions make the cut.
- According to its NFR write-up, “…No Lies” has been viewed throughout the years by “nurses, therapists, and police officers.”
- As previously mentioned, I am vastly underqualified to discuss rape and sexual assault. What I will say is that if you have been a victim, I believe you, you are not alone, and there is help and support for you.