Coming to The World Channel’s America ReFramed today, Tuesday, February 2: OLD SOUTH
Danielle Beverly’s look at a divided community made its debut at the Atlanta Film Festival last year. It has gone on to screen on the Southern Circuit, Sebastopol Doc, Indie Grits, SF DocFest, and the Afghanistan International Women’s film fests, among others.
Beverly investigates modern-day race relations in the South through the microcosm of a single neighborhood in Athens GA, the historically African American Hancock/Reese area near downtown. After the local university’s Kappa Alpha fraternity lose their house, their leaders purchase property within this neighborhood to construct a new frat house, with architecture that to some residents is reminiscent of old plantation styles. Given KA’s annual celebration of the antebellum period, and their seemingly exclusively white membership, neighborhood residents were wary – particularly Hope, whose mother’s home is the only survivor after KA demolishes the rest of the historically-black homes on the block. Beverly follows Hope’s efforts to have the neighborhood designated as an historic district, which will help prevent any further gentrification or destruction. At the same time, no matter what the local government decides, KA is there to stay, so the film also looks at the tentative efforts made to build bridges between longtime residents and the fraternity brothers, appealing to their reputation as a service-oriented organization, and finding common ground in a community garden project. Despite a too-condensed running time, utilizing a largely verité approach, Beverly profiles the two camps as they move from suspicion on on side and naïveté on the other, to cooperation and mutual respect.