There has never been a greater year for documentaries than 2020. It was the year that granted more variety in how filmmakers can approach the form, narrating intimate stories about life’s bitter and sweet truths like The Social Dilemma, A Secret Love, Miss Americana, and Tiger King. 2020 also treated us with one-of-a-kind films like Dick Johnson is Dead: a documentary that playfully and shockingly juggles existential viewpoints.
It is truly amazing how many audiences have embraced the notion that there’s more to documentaries than a simple collage of talking-head interviews. Sometimes, they can be intensely absorbing. When it comes to 2020 documentaries, no film tops Garrett Bradley’s Time, a meditation on a family surviving through the absence of a patriarchal figure.
It follows Sibil Fox Richardson, an entrepreneur and mother of six, as she fights a two-decade appeal for the release of her husband, Rob, who was sentenced to sixty-year imprisonment in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Both Fox and Rob were incarcerated for being prime suspects of a bank robbery. Fox was released three-and-a-half years later, leaving her husband behind in the institution.
Fox sees her husband’s sentence as a race-related incident, forcefully taking him away. The film doubles down on the impact it has on her and her children, who are growing up without a father.
Time juxtaposes present-day footage with home videotapes Fox has recorded through the years. The latter, which prominently narrates the struggles of Fox and her family through the years, is a relic of the immense strength and courage of a mother trying to make things work for her children.
Time is an important reminder of how love can transcend the impossible. It is a painful and inspiring commentary of the millions of families who remain incomplete because of an unlawful justice system. Battles are still being fought by Fox and millions of others. It’s only a matter of time before everyone joins the appeal to make a difference.