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Flag Wars (2003)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 10 March 2003 (USA)
"Flag Wars" is a cinema verite documentary that follows the conflicts that arise when gay white professionals move into a black working-class neighborhood. Filmed over a four years in ... See full summary »

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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
Nina Masseria ...
Floyd Goode ...
Josephine Goode ...
Shango Baba Olugbala ...
Himself (as Chief Shango Baba Olugbala)
Linda R. Mitchell ...
Richard C. Pfeiffer ...
Himself - Judge (as Judge Richard C. Pfeiffer)
Jim Yoder ...
Chuck Spingola ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kathleen Bailey ...
Daniel Barber
Randy Black ...
Roger Bohn ...
Shirley Bowen
Thomas Cambell
Sue Carpenter ...


"Flag Wars" is a cinema verite documentary that follows the conflicts that arise when gay white professionals move into a black working-class neighborhood. Filmed over a four years in Columbus, Ohio, "Flag Wars" leads viewers on an eye-opening journey into a divided community. Written by Anonymous

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Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

The producers thank the residents of the near east side/olde towne east of Columbus, Ohio and others. Without your generosity of spirit and honesty, this film would not have been possible. See more »


Referenced in Columbus Neighborhoods: Olde Towne East (2012) See more »


Chant to Elegba
Performed by Baba Olugbala, Lashawnda Darryl-Patrice Keith, Takai Ariel Estridge, Toshia Renee Estridge, Sherri Elaine Lynn Royster
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User Reviews

Flag War Review
24 October 2013 | by See all my reviews

Flag Wars Documentary Review

Flag Wars is a documentary about an inner-city neighborhood east of Downtown Columbus, Ohio named Olde Towne. It once was home to Columbus' wealthiest and most influential residents such as industrialists, lawyers, teachers and architects. The area where it lies on top of was developed after the streetcar lines were extended to here from downtown Columbus. Upon this land large, opulent residences were built by the city's elite. Following the spread of automobile use starting in the 1920s the neighborhood's residents decided to move further out into suburban areas such as the City of Bexley in the search for newer, less congested housing. The hole left behind by moving residents was filled by poorer African-Americans looking for affordable housing close to the jobs available in downtown Columbus. The old, opulent homes were stripped of any valuable items and/or partitioned into apartments or nursing homes. "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olde_Towne_East." Accessed October 24, 2013.

Olde Towne fell on hard economic times starting in the 1980s and was neglected up until the early 2000s during the housing boom in the United States. White Homosexual homebuyers were attracted to the neighborhood because of the cheap, beautiful, historical homes in the area. These new incoming residents in turn displaced older residents. This sort displacement has taken place in many Chicago communities such as Bucktown, Wicker Park, and Lakeview for example. One of these newcomers is a lesbian real estate agent Nina Masseria who seems to have a genuine disdain for the old time residents. The disdain could be attributed to her belief that the current residents don't appreciate what they have and their reluctance to accept the inevitable displacement of long-time residents. And of course, Nina stands to benefit financially from the continuing gentrification of the area.

The documentary then shifts to Chief Obablook Baba Sonco Obadina a long-time resident who is a local handyman and artist. Chief Obadina has been ordered by the city of Columbus to take down a sign on the front entrance of his home which he has carved himself. The sign bears his name and address but, is not in compliance with the historical ordinances established in the neighborhood. Chief Obadina claims that his sign is grandfathered from this ordinance and the main reason new surrounding neighbors don't like the sign is because it is Afro centric in nature.

Furthermore, Chief Obadina contends that the historical ordinances are nothing more than a tool to accelerate the gentrification of his neighborhood, because many times older residents aren't able to afford the repairs to get homes into compliance with the ordinances. Local governments want gentrification because of the potential increase in property taxes from renovated properties as well as the economic resources wealthier residents bring to a community.

The documentary then turns to Linda Mitchell an elderly, poor, sickly resident who has lived in the same house since her childhood. Due to the lack of maintenance on her home she has been summoned to court for building code violations. This lack of maintenance is attributed to years of neglect on her part, which has been exacerbated by her illness and lack of funds to make the needed repairs. Even thought, she doesn't have the funds or the capability to make the needed repairs to bring her home into compliance, she is defiant on not selling her home.

The documentary also looks into the opinions of the African- American community on the incoming Gays and vice versa. There is a lot of hostility towards the new Gay residents by Blacks because of two main reasons. First one being outright homophobia and the second being a fear of long time Black residents being forced out of their neighborhood in which they have established roots. On the other hand, Gays have a more subtle disliking of Black residents, in which they don't mind living next to them but, at the same time wouldn't shed a tear if they left. Gays attribute the high amount of crime to Blacks and feel they are being targeted for robbery due to the impression that they are comparatively wealthier than the Black residents.

In the later stages of the film Linda is helped out by Chief Obadina and other volunteers who help her repair some of the violations in her house. In regards to Chief Obadina he has the misfortune of losing his case against the city and must take down his sign. The documentary ends with Linda Mitchel's funeral and real estate agent Nina Masseria doing a walk-through of Linda's former home. Even though Linda never sold her home personally, she still kind of lost her home anyway.

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