I heard about "Prom Night in Mississippi" on local NPR about a week ago, and went out to peep it here at Cleveland International Film Festival. "Prom Night" is a documentary about a town in the South that still has segregated proms until townie and actor Morgan Freeman offers to pay for an integrated one. It's gotten some nice notes here and there. There are no big surprises or heady revealations in the film, because you have almost certainly seen it before as either an after-school special or church drama. It's feel-good, cathartic, and definitely worth your time. But you know going in most of what the film tries to reveal about race relations in this country. It strives for balance but comes out predicatably one-sided.

Having lived in the both the South and the North, I am always disturbed by the way northerners pretend like southerners invented racism and "Prom Night" seems to run with that thesis. This, perhaps, is because the filmmakers are Canadian and only know what they read of the American South. I prefer southern racism to northern, because at least I know where I stand.

Advertisement

Also, in "Prom Night," there is no examination of the role class plays in race relations. When I watch films by white folks that deal with the recurring Negro Problem in the United States, I find myself wanting for filmmakers with eyes keen enough to get past how people behave and examine why people behave the way that they do.

Single Father, Author, Screenwriter, Award-Winning Journalist, NPR Moderator, Lecturer and College Professor. Habitual Line-Stepper