Anyone who has lived in America for the past six years will find the divisions depicted in “This Land” to be familiar, perhaps painfully so. The Matthew Palmer-directed documentary, available on demand, follows a diverse group of characters representing 42 states in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election. Viewing the film in 2022, the high tensions and raw emotions it portrays can at times feel too close to home, but in the years to come, “This Land” may serve as an intriguing time capsule of the country during one of its most unusual elections.
While differing in age, gender, race, class and political leanings, the people depicted in the film all approach the presidential race with a mix of passion for the issues close to their hearts and disillusionment with the political system writ large. One Native American subject laughs off the idea of voting for two white men, citing the genocide of his people. A wealthy gay couple find themselves on opposite sides of the political spectrum, with one man utterly perplexed that his partner would vote Republican. A Christian man with a Trump-supporting family grapples with which candidate to vote for; his young son has cancer, and his wife, a native of Mexico, will not be allowed back into the U.S. for another seven years under the Trump administration’s immigration policy.
The narratives in “This Land” are compelling, even if each of them would benefit from more screen time. (The Covid-19 pandemic affected the shooting schedule, and it shows.) On the whole, the film is best seen as a collage, rather than a definitive report, of the array of opinions brought on by the Trump-Biden race.