South (Sud), dir. Chantal Akerman, Finland / Belgium / France 1999, 71 mins., English
Inspired by a love of the literature of William Faulkner and James Baldwin, Akerman planned a meditation on the American South, modeled perhaps on her prior D’est. But, just as she began work, James Byrd, Jr. was murdered in Jasper, Texas. A black man, he has severely beaten by three white men, chained to their truck, and dragged three miles through a black neighborhood.
Akerman’s engagement is not news reportage. Jasper, the context for the crime, must be scrutinized. Patient interviews reveal the people and their attitudes. Byrd's funeral is a moment of deep feeling.
This is a film that finds an alternative to the forensic investigation of In Cold Blood. This is a film that evokes a terrain, the folds of a psychological condition, the cold heart of white supremacism and the extraordinary nobility of the black community under attack.
Perhaps it is Akerman’s sense of exclusion, stemming from her family’s experience of the Holocaust, that enables her to see in this way.
is curated by Éric Baudelaire in the context of 3+3: Éric Baudelaire
, a project presenting three films by the French filmmaker, and three films of his choice.
Read more about Éric Baudelaire’s selection here