Then I wised up, headed over to Slamdance, and picked up one of the Mississippi Film Office's sponsor badges (hey, I'm an affiliate-in-exile), just in time to see a film called Mississippi Damned. Another film about poor black Mississippians, we've NEVER seen that before, I thought. I expected to hate it, times double for being filmed in North Carolina and set in Mississippi.
I wanted to hate it, but I couldn't. It's like the pretty, popular girl that gets Homecoming Queen. You know, the one you want to hate because you're angry and awkward and have to pretend that you don't care, that you find that bullshit offensive and anti-feminist anyhow, except that this girl (who happened to be my sister) is so genuinely kind and generous towards everyone, that you can't even. Hate. On.
Yet another film parading Delta landscape before Park City audiences, showing busted people with crazy hair and crazier eyes, awash in natural light and gorgeous editing, and calling it Mississippi.
Because this movie was so real, the gamblers, drunks and drug addicts so nongratuitous, the hope so nebulous, that I went with it. Plus, there was pea-shelling and fish-gutting and a granny with a gun.
And, for a change, THIS story of poor black Mississippians was actually made by a black Mississippian. In the Q and A, Tupelo native Tina Mabry said that she loosely based Mississippi Damned on her own family's struggles. The film is a grueling series of opportunities squelched by the cruelty of circumstance and the characters' painful decisions. Kids take care of the adults, buying groceries and handing over college savings when a mother's cancer comes back or a father loses a job. Ultimately, there is redemption in the form of the baby of the family, saint-like Carrie's fulfilled (what happens to a) dream (deferred), but it comes late in the game and with a terrible price.
This movie should get bought. Here's hoping.
And, for a change, THIS story of poor black Mississippians was actually made by a black Mississippian.
Ooh. This sounds incredibly good.
Would also add that the top-billed associate producer of Prom Night in Mississippi, another Mississippi-based film screening at Sundance this year (this one a documentary), is the JFP's own Thabi Moyo. She also did sound editing.
- Tom Head
Indeed, she is. Thabi started here as an intern, then became a freelancer for us. Love her, and very proud. Memorize that name, folks.
This is the JFP's second year being well represented at Sundance. Todd, as well as my brother and sister-in-law and tons of Jacksonians we all know, were involved with "Ballast" last year.
Who's up next year!?!