Sundance Film Festival
Barak Goodman’s “Oklahoma City” draws a line between Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and the country’s burgeoning white supremacist movement. Long before they came to prominence in the 2016 election cycle, these reactionaries sought to recast government opposition to their far-right ideology as an attack on guns and religion. Goodman cross-cuts between the carnage of the attack and the increasingly radical movement, ultimately concluding that McVeigh failed because he put a human face on attacking the government.
Did he, though?
“Oklahoma City” is effective when connecting 1995 to the decades of militant white nationalism that preceded it, yet Goodman bungles the documentary’s relevance to the present. The upbeat ending downplays their continuing, disturbing strength. Goodman did not need to put a call to action on the closing credits redirecting viewers to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate groups registry. However, some acknowledgement that Oklahoma City represents the close of the chapter rather than the end of the book seems necessary.
As documentaries like “Welcome to Leith” and our literal every day life show us, white nationalism is far from done. It’s still here and scarier than ever. Now the onus is on us to understand it and defeat its hatefulness from overtaking our pluralistic, inclusive society. B /
NOTE: Portions of this review ran in my coverage of the Sundance Film Festival for Movie Mezzanine.