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45365/Independent Lens on PBS Offers a Scattered View of Small Town Living

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In the "Independent Lens" series which is shown on PBS you get a variety of documentaries concerning various subject matters and locations. This month the documentary presented is titled 45365. This title relates to the zip code of Sidney, Ohio, a town which is the subject matter of the film.

Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross, who are brothers and film makers, have directed this look at their hometown. The film is a kaleidoscope of scenes and people inhabiting the town. There is no major theme but rather the randomness of the scenes shown is the thread on which the subject matter is hung.

No story shown in the film is completed. We hear a rousing pep talk by the coach of the high school football team as he sends the young men out to do battle on the playing field. Whether they won or not is never disclosed. The message is the important part and not the aftermath.

We hear a policeman talk about how he arrested adults when he was new on the job and now he is arresting their kids. He bemoans the lack of good parenting. In another scene we see an adult being picked up by the police and in another a lawyer talks to a mother about the problems of her son. He says the son will probably get twelve months in jail. The mother accepts this fact.

Throughout the one hour documentary there are musical interludes. In one scene we hear a choir singing and in another we are introduced to Elvis, Jr. The radio is constantly on in various locales and music pours forth from it as well as sports news and political promises.

A fair is in town and there are a variety of rides on which the kids can participate. We get to see two friends coax a third to ride a certain ride. They promise that the ride doesn't make people sick or even feel sick. The reluctant friend rides the ride but whether or not it makes him sick we never know.

All of this is life in a small town and it is perfectly reflected in this film. It is very seldom dramatic; it is mostly community oriented. It is politics, and local business, and conversations, and school pride. In short it is the backbone of our country and what makes us unique.

45365 captures the essence of Sidney, Ohio. It shows its variations and colors all blended into a patchwork quilt of living.

45365 airs in the "Independent Lens" series on PBS, Tuesday, December 14 at 10PM.