OPENS JULY 4, CERT 15, 100 MINS
Film-maker Sophie Fiennes here offers a view of South Central LA just as real as gangs, violence and drug culture. She focuses on the Greater Bethany Community Church and the mesmeric oratory of preacher “Bishop” Noel Jones, brother of singer Grace. Eschewing conventional narrative, Hoover Street Revival depicts local community life, ranging from the mundane (a man dressing his baby daughter) to the tragic (the aftermath of a shooting), and illustrates how Jones’ sermons relate to his congregation’s lives.
While some might be put off by its lack of normal documentary structure, in which conclusions and impressions are served up for us, this is the film’s strength. It’s like an exhibition of photography, where we’re free to arrive at our own intellectual and emotional responses. Two weaknesses: the strobe effects which artificially enliven the church scenes are jarring, and there’s no interview with the film’s main character, Jones himself. Otherwise, a thoroughly worthy venture.