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Documentary fails to deliver on sub-title's promise, 20 June 2012

My overall impression of the film was that, while it is the role of documentaries to do just that—document—what is documented in Johnson's work is town gossip. Nothing wrong with that, but it is not "the untold story," which hints at some new revelations or previously undiscovered facts about Ruby McCollum's murder of Dr. Adams.

What disturbs me the most about the documentary is that Johnson's title perpetuates the myth that, other than to make a brief statement about what Johnson calls "rape," Ruby McCollum did not testify at her trial: hence, "The Other Side of Silence."

Johnson's title was borrowed from the beautiful metaphor coined by Zora Neale Hurston to relay her frustration about the town's reluctance to talk about the story, and the fact that she felt that the real story occurred "on the other side of silence, behind a curtain of secrecy."

Now I find that Dr. Johnson has, along with many other writers, again perpetuated the myth of Ruby McCollum's silence during her trial, noting only Hurston's report of the number of times the State objected to Defense direct questioning of Ms. McCollum and her testimony about her hesitancy to have sex with Adams.

What Dr. Johnson ignores is that Ms. McCollum was allowed to testify about her affair with Dr. Adams, and that she bore his child.

For viewers who want to hear the town gossip, this is your movie--you'll never guess what some of these myth spinners have to say.

Documentation of sources is given for some material, yet lacking for others. Hopefully, this is a pre-release and it will be edited.

Gossip aside, Johnson is to be lauded for her interview with Keith Black, the State prosecutor in the trial. Her beautifully photographed documentary is redeemed by this inclusion, which is fascinating for those of us who have written about the Ruby McCollum story.