2007 SXSW DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION FEATURE! Tragic. That is really the only way I can sum up what happened in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1979. The Communist Workers Party was having a rally and a fight broke out between them and the KKK which resulted in the deaths of five people. The town of Greensboro very much wants to bring attention to the good things they have to offer. It is just hard to get rid of the stigma that has been brought to the town from the Greensboro Massacre. This documentary looks to shed light on the events that took place and how people are now dealing with it. What we end up getting, all told, is a film that doesn’t really choose a side, instead it shows how both sides dealt with the event and, thus, makes for a well-told documentary.
The documentary follows five of the survivors from the Communist Workers party and two Klansmen. The town has decided to set up a Truth Commission that is in an effort to bring reconciliation to the town, twenty-five years later. Both sides recount what transpired on that November day and it is evident, as the stories are told, that neither side was remotely justified in their actions.
For example, the Communist Workers Party sent out flyers that said “death to the Klan.” This led to the Klan sending a caravan of cars through the parade. Then a Communist took a club and bashed the headlights of one of the Klansmen’s cars which ultimately led to the fight. Now murder is never justifiable, but I am convinced that things may not of escalated as quickly if the Klan hadn’t been provoked. Unlike me, however, I am happy to say that the director didn’t pick a side.
The film was directed by Adam Zucker and his documentary is strong in the fact that it felt so well-balanced when displaying both sides’ views. He more showcased the tragedy and how it affected everyone. And to see the footage of the actual event is pretty disturbing. While I wasn’t alive when all of this happened, I felt that everything was explained in a great fashion.
This film depicts the tragedy respectfully, and furthermore I think it does a great job at reflecting on a dark time on human culture and how we look to change who we are. It was terrible what happened to those people. Hopefully now, Greensboro can start healing and no longer have to try and not talk so much about what happened.