In Searching for Angela Shelton the road functions as a means of discovery. Angela is traveling around the country interviewing other women as a way of finding herself. She claims that she is trying to unify women but instead appears to use the open road as a means to share her story with others. She takes to the road to fix what her dad and step brother did and confront them as well as bring into light the violence women experience (rape/battery/molestation).
The story underlying this documentary is that of Angela. Throughout her travels we learn more and more about her childhood and the sexual harassment that her and her step-sister experienced at the hands of her father, step-mother and step-brother. Angela confronts her step-brother and is able to reconcile their past and build a foundation for a strong relationship in the future. She also gets a chance to confront her father who does nothing but deny what she claims happened in the past.
The road and the traveling RV work to advance the story of Angela. Each interview with a different Angela Shelton and phone conversation with anonymous brings out more of the details of our story about Angela and her past.
Angela doesn’t use her camera power responsibly. She claims that she is trying to unify women but all I see is her pushing her own agenda throughout the film. If the story really was about unifying women Angela should have kept her personal story to a minimum. Instead she should have focused more on her interviewees and their stories. During these interviews the interviewee is the only one appearing in front of camera but we can hear Angela asking questions and then using the questions and the individuals’ stories to shift back into her personal story. She fails to fully consider some of the problems that may occur in these women’s lives by bringing up their painful past experiences. As is the case with anonymous you wonder if Angela may be pushing her over the edge. You feel as though you are waiting to hear that this women committed suicide. I think Angela should have considered her actions a little further and made sure these women had access to any help they needed.
If I was Angela I would focus on whether my documentary was a story about my life or about those around me. Once I decided my focus I would try and limit the other from the story. If it was about me I would expand upon what happened in the past and spend more time with my step-sister who experienced the situation at my side. I would also look into talking to my step-mother to hear what she had to say about it. If, however, I wanted to focus on other women and their life stories I would make sure to limit my presence to the audience. I would cut out the part of the film where I ask the questions and limit it to only their responses. I would probably limit the number of women on the video and try and get a deeper understanding of just who they are and how they got to that point. My audience would never feel as though I was using these women to tell my own story.