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Short reviews of films showing at the D.C. Independent Film Festival, which runs March 7-10.
The town of Cairo sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in the southernmost part of Illinois. When those two rivers, the largest in North America, were major modes of transportation in the 19th century, the town flourished; its population topped 15,000 in 1920. Mark Twain even used Cairo as Huck and Jim’s original destination in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But time has not been kind to the Midwestern town.
It’s an abandoned, derelict Cairo that directors Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan visit in their documentary, Between Two Rivers. The town has faced disaster upon disaster—-not just the loss of industry, but also racial strife and violence, and now, it’s at risk of washing away entirely should one of the rivers overflow its banks. (When the Ohio River flooded in 2011, the entire town was evacuated.) Its population now hovers just above 2,000, and the remaining residents featured in the film lament the cruel hand they’ve been dealt. “It’s almost like we’ve been left behind,” says one man, calmly. “We don’t exist.” America’s heartland never looked more desolate.
The film shows at 9 p.m. March 7 at the Goethe Institut, 812 7th St. NW. $12. betweentworivers.net.