'Moving Midway': Documentary Maker Brings Film to the Sunrise
It's not often that a small-town nonprofit theater books a critically acclaimed first-run documentary that arrives accompanied by the film's creator and director.
But that's what's happening in Southern Pines at the Sunrise Theater for two showings of the award-winning "Moving Midway: A Southern Plantation in Transit" on Oct. 7-8 at 7:30 p.m. Godfrey Cheshire, a well-known New York film critic and the film's director, will be present for both showings.
And what a story Cheshire has to tell. When he returned to North Carolina in early 2004, he learned that his cousin, Charlie Silver, was planning to uproot and move the buildings of the family home place, Midway Plantation, to a friendlier location away from the strip malls, traffic and hubbub of life in Raleigh. What Godfrey ended up documenting on film was an extraordinary, emotional journey that winds its way through a startling family history, American pop culture, and the Southern psyche.
Built in 1848 near Raleigh, Midway Plantation was the home of the Hintons, ancestors of the Silvers. Godfrey discovers that Charlie has been contacted by Al Hinton, whose previously unknown African-American family descends from a liaison between Midway's builder and a plantation slave, and that the Midway's relocation is controversial among members of both families. Add Dr. Robert Hinton, an NYU professor of African-American studies who says his grandfather was born a slave at Midway, stir in a few ghosts, and you've got a story that's irresistible.
"Moving Midway" is the dialogue between the very different perspectives of Cheshire and Dr. Hinton, examining how the Southern plantation, a crucial economic institution in early America, generated a bitterly contested mythology that was at the center of a string of American cultural milestones, from "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Birth of a Nation" to "Gone with the Wind" and "Roots."
If you're a Southerner or even an acculturized transplant, "Moving Midway" may sound typically Faulknerian or even a trifle Gothic, but critics and audiences have embraced the documentary for its riveting examination of the manners, mores, and prejudices at work in contemporary America.
Tickets are available at the Sunrise box office.
Contact Stephen Smith at email@example.com.
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