Dependable Erection

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Durham: A Self-Portrait

So, who went to one of the screenings of Durham: A Self-Portrait last night? I know that everyone's a critic, so what did you think? Learn anything new about the Bull City?

Mrs. Dependable and i made a last minute decision to go and grabbed some tickets for the second showing. While i was picking them up i saw half of the city council, manager Patrick Baker, and a host of staffers from several city departments. Pretty much 2000 people saw the film last night, and a bunch more will see it at the Sunday matinee screening at the Carolina.

Let's talk about it in the comments, and consider this an open thread for Saturday.

: More discussion at Kevin's place



  • I was at the late showing last night and really enjoyed myself. I have lived in Durham for just about two years now, and I did learn quite a bit from the film. I knew a lot of the generalities before (I knew the Royal Ice Cream sit-in was a big deal and I had heard of the basketball game), but a lot of the specifics were new to me. I especially thought the issues regarding the highway construction were interesting.

    By Anonymous 9/9, at 11:00 AM  

  • Is the Carolina going to keep showing the film after the premiere? I would have liked to have gone to one of the showings this weekend, but I've had conflicts.

    By Blogger Lenore, at 1:43 PM  

  • i haven't heard of any plans to screen the movie beyond tomorrow afternoon's show, which is, according to reports, already sold out.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 2:08 PM  

  • I have a coworker who said that she heard it will probably get aired on PBS at sometime soon, but I haven't been able to find any mention of that anywhere, so I suspect she has no idea what she is talking about.

    By Anonymous 9/9, at 3:34 PM  

  • Great to meet you in-person, Barry!

    We enjoyed the movie and our night on the town. I learned a good bit of Durham history, and I thought the interviews with long-time residents were especially well done. Good humor and lots of goodwill throughout.

    It seemed a little disjointed at times, but that's a very minor nit.

    Coming out of the movie, I witnessed two gentlemen -- one black, one white -- approach the exit door at the same time. Both extended an offer to hold the door for the other.

    It was a small but touching metaphor for the movie's main message -- that the city has a remarkable, long-standing tradition of race collaborations. Here's hoping it continues for decades to come.

    By Blogger Sean, at 4:31 PM  

  • Same here, Sean. I think sometimes with projects like that, the producers can be so close to the work that they intuitively fill in gaps that other people kind of wonder about when they see the piece. I wonder if it was shown to any groups of people who know little to nothing about Durham's history during the production process.

    i'll put up a post about the PtC Black Friday event early in the week. See you there.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 5:33 PM  

  • I thought it was a really solid film and should make a great starting point for future conversations about Durham. I was also impressed by the way Channing skillfully covered 150 years of history in 80 minutes.

    Three quibbles, though:

    First, how can you make a film about race relations in Durham and NOT include any reference to Ann Atwater and CP Ellis? Their reconciliation is the feel-good story of the century. Maybe Channing felt this ground had been thoroughly covered in other, recent works (film and literary).

    Second, the constant thematic reliance on the "secret game" became somewhat tiresome by movie's end. And finally, the music was occasionally intrusive. For example, the scene describing the Royal Ice Cream sit-in was accompanied by unnecessary, (supposedly?) tension-building synth music. The story was compelling on its own; it didn't need a soundtrack.

    Still, the film was a great overview of Durham -- and a nice foil to the usual histories that focus on Big Tobacco. Much can be learned from our Self-Portrait.


    By Blogger Andrew, at 5:26 PM  

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