Interview: Debra Granik on “poverty porn,” self-worth, and her new film, Stray Dog

Unfettered by what Hollywood mandates these days (sequels, superheroes, stupidity), Debra Granik has built a career on verisimilitude—an admirable dedication to capturing the lives of people most movies ignore. Granik is interested in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri, where everything, as Ignatiy Vishnevetsky writes in his review of her new movie, Stray Dog, “exists in a state of perpetual DIY repair.”

At the heart of her first foray into documentary is the eponymous Ron “Stray Dog” Hall (who had a supporting role in Granik’s last film, Winter’s Bone), a herculean figure who effortlessly exhibits wisdom, calmness, and pragmatism. A devout biker and recovering Vietnam veteran, Hall proves to be a dynamic subject, commanding the screen with his presence. Granik taps, pokes, and prods, unearthing a man, and community, full of virtues and vices. This isn’t simply a film about backwater societies, clawing and scratching to survive …

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