Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
The civil rights movement in Mississippi in the 1960s is chronicled in this unforgettable documentary. During the harshest years of America’s Jim Crow laws, there was no more frightening a state to live in than Mississippi and the fight for equal rights was as difficult as it could possibly be. In fact, as documented here, the very first black citizen in the state to register to vote was shot and killed at the ballot box by a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives (who was also the victim’s friend since childhood, and who was acquitted on the grounds of self-defence). This is just the beginning of a long journey that leads towards the ‘freedom summer’ of 1964 when university students from around the country come to the state to register disenfranchised voters and lead them to the Democratic national convention as their own separate party, and their victories, losses, speeches and protests are still being felt today after so many years. Interviews with countless participants are heartbreaking, inspirational and fascinating, plus there’s a wealth of stock footage from the time that still resonates with viewers today (I just love when the president of the American Psychological Association points out that ‘these people’ are only guests in this ‘European civilization’. Did you invite them over for tea two hundred years ago and they just forgot to leave?) Those who have seen Alan Parker’s film Mississippi Burning will also want to take a look, as it debunks some of the inaccuracies that were perpetrated in that film (for entertainment’s sake) and truly educates its viewer on the subject it is presenting. A marvelous, unique experience.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Documentary Feature