Sundance 2020 Review: “Aggie” (2020) ★★★★

What do we do to help those in need? Do we spend our last penny to feed someone, or choose to simply give up our seat to the elderly? Acts of generosity are priceless. It can’t be measured or defined in any form. However, there are people who are not only determined to do the right thing but use their powerful platform to make a difference where it is needed the most. Therefore, the documentary from Catherine Gund “Aggie” is a real picture of unconditional kindness, luckily, the world we live in is still not lacking.

Agnes Gund or ‘Aggie’ is an American philanthropist who sent the world in a state of deep shock when back in 1962 she sold Roy Lichtenstein’s “Masterpiece” for a sweeping $165 million. While this kind of sale and purchase is common in the world of art, the transaction is not what stunned the world but what she did with this money. Realizing that something needs to be done in order to stop mass incarceration, the woman creates The Art for Justice Fund to help cope with the awful prison reforms in U.S. However, her mission does not end there as she continues her great cause that will bring the necessary changes, maybe not that much, but enough to reduce the numbers to a level many could not even get close.

Emmy-nominated filmmaker Catherine Gund, in her feature documentary film, follows her mother’s journey, translates her mother’s powerful message onto the silver screen by explaining the importance of art and how it contributes to social change. As we begin learning more about Agnes Gund, through the onscreen interviews with Ms. Gund herself and many more like Abigail Disney, Rajendra Roy, Darren Walker, Xaviera Simmons, Rio, Sadie, Kofi Hope-Gund, and Tenzin Gund-Murrow, we get a deeper look into the history of the U.S. as well as Gund’s real reasons as to why she had to dedicate her life to social justice issues and how many more women and men she inspired to follow her footsteps.

That said, the importance of Agness Gund’s commitment to the dark world to make it brighter is enormous. Through “Aggie”, we are not only getting inspired by her intentions but how and why she does all of what she does. With the ability and money one person can have, how many of us would be willing to sacrifice the time we have for others? Going to jails, checking prisoners’ condition, or advocating for those who were incarcerated for a minor offense but spend their lives in prison just because of the color of their skin?

Indeed, nowadays it may not be as bad as it was back then but only because of the struggles and efforts through the years. If not for people like Agness Gund, we realize that changes can never happen. This is why learning more stories like these help us improve one way or another. Maybe we don’t have a “Masterpiece” to resell but we can be more aware of issues and be ready to act on them instead of sticking to our own comfort zone that, in reality, is just a temporary shield to protect us from the ugly reality. People like Agness Gund try hard for us to reduce their impact when we leave the same aforementioned comfort zone which most of us can’t exist without.

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