While filming a documentary in Mississippi in 1965, Frank De Felitta forever changed the life of an African-American waiter and his family. In 2011, Frank's son returns to the Delta to examine the repercussions of that fateful encounter.
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Raymond De Felitta
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Lindsay Almond Jr.,
Edward L. Ayers
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In 1965, filmmaker Frank De Felitta made a documentary film for NBC News about the changing times in the American South and the tensions of life in the Mississippi Delta during the civil rights struggle. The film was broadcast in May of 1966 and outraged many Southern viewers, in part, because it included an extraordinary scene featuring a local African-American waiter named Booker Wright. Wright, who worked at a local "whites only" restaurant in Greenwood MS, went on record to deliver a stunning, heartfelt and inflammatory monologue exploding the myth about who he was and how he felt about his position serving the local white community. The fallout for Booker Wright was extreme: He lost his job, and was beaten and ostracized by those that considered him "one of their own." Forty-five years after Booker's television appearance, Frank De Felitta's son, director Raymond De Felitta, takes a journey into the Mississippi Yazoo Delta with Booker Wright's granddaughter in search of who ... Written by
The idea of the film is excellent--the execution is pretty terrible.
Frank De Felitta
Back in the mid-1960s, during the height of racial tensions in the US South, Frank De Felitta made a documentary in which locals were interviewed. For the most part, black people were afraid and said little to argue with the local party line--that blacks and whites love each other and that everyone LOVES the status quo. However, one of the blacks folks they interviewed was famous for his ingratiating ways around white customers but he'd had enough. Mr. Booker told what he REALLY thought--and as a result, he soon ended up in the hospital and his life was ruined.
Doing a film where they talk about Booker's story is a great idea-- even if it is basically just rehashing the old documentary. Putting it in context with the civil rights movement, the KKK and the like COULD have made for a wonderful film. Instead, however, the film was horribly made. Too often the subject matter deviated very far from the original film. Or, even worse, they simply kept restating the same things again and again and again. It also was extremely disjoint, overlong and just sloppy. The bottom line is that there have been a lot of wonderful films about this sort of subject matter (especially many of the episodes of the PBS series "American Experience"). Booker and his story would have been a great inclusion into a much larger and more coherent film.
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