The Flagmakers

Where I Watched it: Disney Plus

English Audio Description provided By Zoo Digital

Narrated by Tanzi Alexander

The Flagmakers is one of the lucky few films on the short list for Best Documentary Short, and it has the pleasure of being featured on Disney Plus. Although, if you’re asking me if I believe the members of the Documentary branch of the Academy care about Disney Plus…

It’s a great find, in terms of a story the world knew nothing about. Make a film about the most American thing anyone could think of, and show the world that most of those flags are being made at a factory by a mostly collective group of immigrants. Then, make sure to tell their stories, stories of the American dream, and what this country has offered them. I think an angrier filmmaker would have likely had some shots of the border, a detention facility, or any number of commentaries on how these immigrants are a drain on society. Drain? They’re making your flags. These people want to be here, and experience freedom, and they love it so much they manufacture the most iconic symbol of freedom.

Sure, not every person who works there is an immigrant, but enough are to make this hit home. Personally, I don’t have a specific problem with the documentary other than I think a short was the wrong way to go. There is just a lot of possibility here for a feature that to celebrate it as a short seems silly. I’d rather send the filmmaker back out there and give me twice the amount of footage, and find his voice. I think he’s on the cusp of asking that bold question so many people keep asking, “What is America?”, which is a more complicated question than “What is it to be American?”

The former of those two could take not only extended looks at the workers who embrace this job, but also how America works or doesn’t work for them. For example, this was filmed during the pandemic and around the time of George Floyd’s murder, so it explores how at least one of the workers feels about loving a country that doesn’t love you back. That’s a powerful message when you’ve got these people literally making an American icon.

So, it’s a fine short, but I have a feeling it would have been an even better 90 minute feature. I think this one will get an Oscar nomination, which is likely really what the director wants anyway, a platform for the next project.

Final Grade: B+

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