Exclusive Trailer: PBS POV Documentary The Neutral Ground Explores the Power a Losing Confederate Has in the U.S.

Director CJ Hunt in PBS POV documentary The Neutral Ground (2021)
Director CJ Hunt in PBS POV documentary The Neutral Ground (2021)
Photo: Courtesy of PBS POV

Here at The Root, we’ve provided exhaustive coverage on the ongoing fight in connection with the removal of Confederate monuments across the nation. The pushback against this glorification of inherently racist symbols has finally gotten some real results within the past few years. Sometimes protestors have to take action; sometimes government officials authorize the removal...and sometimes Mother Nature has to take matters into her own hands.

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Even still, we have quite a long way to go, especially due to the whiny white tears of folks with fetishes for founding fathers. For a systemically racist country that purports mediocre white men as the pillar of success, I guess it’s on brand to literally place soldiers from a losing army on a pedestal.

Thus, PBS has a relevant upcoming documentary from first-time director CJ Hunt titled The Neutral Ground, as part of its POV series. Executive produced by Roy Wood Jr. (The Daily Show) and produced by Darcy McKinnon (Maquilapolis), The Neutral Ground will kick off POV’s 34th season.

More info about the documentary, via the official press release sent to The Root:

An official selection of the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, The Neutral Ground begins in 2015 as Hunt documents a raucous New Orleans City Council meeting about the removal of four Confederate monuments. It quickly becomes apparent just how divided white and Black residents are on the meaning of the city’s statues. This tension between what to Hunt seems obvious—that the statues should be removed—and the fervor with which so many people oppose this view opens an opportunity for him to try and understand the mythology of the Confederacy and why Americans are willing to put so much on the line to guard its stone remnants.

When death threats halt the removals in New Orleans, Hunt hits the road, travelling across the South to try and understand why a losing army from 1865 still holds so much political and imaginative power in contemporary America. Through a mixture of investigative journalism and disarming humor, Hunt unravels America’s troubled romance with the “Lost Cause,” a romanticized and distorted interpretation of the war that ex-Confederates inserted into textbooks, films and the popular imagination.

The Root is pleased to exclusively debut the trailer:

Official Trailer | The Neutral Ground / PBS POV (YouTube)

“In any public debate about Confederate monuments, it’s only a matter of time before someone utters the tired claim: ‘the Civil War wasn’t about slavery.’ Those six words epitomize the daily gaslighting that Black people experience in America,” Hunt says in a statement sent to The Root. “We are told the racism we see with our own eyes is imaginary; that, historically speaking, it never really existed. I made this film to help viewers fight against that gaslighting. Whatever textbooks you grew up reading, The Neutral Ground is an invitation to take a second look at the stories we were handed. We need to speak honestly about white supremacy—not as the rogue actions of bad men marching in the dark—but as the force that shapes every story we tell about America’s past.”

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As part of Tribeca’s Juneteenth programming this year, The Root 100 honoree Nikole Hannah-Jones will be moderating a Q&A with Hunt and Wood. You can find more information about The Neutral Ground’s world premiere at this year’s Tribeca Festival here.

“Historically literate and intensely personal, The Neutral Ground is a critical contribution to the contemporary discussions around monuments, cultural preservation and racism that have intensified in the months during the worldwide protests for racial justice,” Erika Dilday, Executive Producer of POV and Executive Director of American Documentary said in a statement sent to The Root. “We knew this would be the right film to start the season.”

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 The Neutral Ground premieres July 5 on PBS at 10 p.m. ET (check local listings) and at pov.org. The documentary will also be available to stream on pov.org until August 4.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

DISCUSSION

tonguetwister
tonguetwister

Thanks for this. In Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste, she calls it “psychic trolling”, this persistent extolling of virtues of Confederate criminals in the form of monuments and statues in all 50 states. Burn em all down. If they remain, they only serve to boost the white lies and denial that fuel white supremacy.