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Silver Dollar Road

Releasing Date:-                20 Oct, 2023  (U.S.)                    

Genre:-                                Documentary

Cinema:-                              Movie (English)  

Avg. Users’ Rating:-         Silver Dollar Road  3.5/5

IMDb Rating:-                     Silver Dollar Road 7.6/10

Cast & Crew:-

Director:-          Raoul Peck

Actor:-                John C. Barnett, Classie Curley, Melvin Davis

For decades, a Black family in North Carolina has been tormented by land developers who want to seize their waterfront property.

Mamie Reels Ellison’s great-grandfather purchased 65 acres on the coast of North Carolina in the aftermath of enslavement. That land on Silver Dollar Road became a home, a place to farm and fish, and a sanctuary, ranging from its pine and gum-tree woodlands to a sandy beach where the Reels family spent generations relaxing.

The Reels homestead, however, was under peril by the 2000s. The beachfront property had been claimed by developers, and Mamie’s two brothers, Melvin Davis and Licurtis Reels, were sentenced to eight years in prison for refusing to evacuate their homes. Raoul Peck’s “Silver Dollar Road” turns Lizzie Presser’s 2019 ProPublica article into an intimate depiction of the family’s tolerance in the face of displacement.

Mamie and her niece Kim Duhon spearhead the family’s campaign to keep the land, but Peck’s film is more about sitting with the two women and their relatives, listening to their worries and hopes as their grandparents’ land remains in limbo. Peck, the director of the powerful and compelling James Baldwin documentary “I Am Not Your Negro,” avoids systemic analysis in order to allow the family speak for themselves about their experience.

A celebration for Gertrude Reels, 95, sets the tone for the family’s close-knit circles and feeling of continuity. Mamie and Kim’s interviews conjure happy recollections of their childhood sanctuary, which are illustrated with faded images; and Melvin, a winning fisherman, provides us an on-the-ground sense of the country, ranging through woodlands and canals. (Peck uses 90-plus hours of footage shot by Mayeta Clark for ProPublica.)

Their legal problems began in the 1970s, when a Reels patriarch died without leaving a will, suspicious of Southern courts. His farm was passed down to his children, but one of the co-owners covertly sold it to a developer using a legal loophole. As the film’s short captions make clear, it’s only one of many tactics used in a cruel history of Black land dispossession: Over the course of the twentieth century, Black Americans lost over 90% of their farms.

The second half of the film focuses on the fight to release Melvin and Licurtis from a sentence that appears to be racially motivated. However, Peck does not hand over the film to talking-head experts who explain how the Reels are symptomatic victims. Their exhaustion and despair are palpable in interviews, but they are also sustained by love and faith. (Animated intertwined branches evoke their family tree in the film’s images.)

Mamie says nothing about bigotry among whites while videotaping outsiders on the Reels property during the brothers’ stint in jail. But no one here is defined by this battle, and in the midst of mounting dangers to a beloved home, Peck’s achievement is to give the Reels family emotional room.

Credit Video and Information : YouTube, Google, IMDb

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