Release Date: July 25
Director: Margaret Brown
Cinematographer: Michael Simmonds
Starring: Max Bruckmann, Stefannie Lucas, Helen Meaher, Joseph Roberson
Studio/Run Time: Cinema Guild, 80 mins.
Ebony and ivory converge at America's oldest Mardi Gras
Separate, but equal. This doctrine that governed segregation in the Deep South is the relic of another era. But not in Mobile, Ala., home of America’s first Mardi Gras celebration, which began in the port city in 1703 before migrating to New Orleans and greater symbolic renown. Three centuries later, the descendents of Mobile’s African slaves have their own celebration, and the members of old slave-owning white families enjoy a separate Mardi Gras. Director Brown, a Mobile native, takes her video camera inside the city’s mystic social clubs, masked balls and parade culture, charmingly anatomizing the enduring ways of eccentric Southern ritual. Unexpectedly, the 2007 Mardi Gras she documents ends up being a breakthrough, as seasonal “royalty” from both the white and black communities cross the color line in a decisive, rather than cursory, way, helping redeem decades of casual racism. It’s a quietly inspiring, affectionately told story.