Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are)

A layered, nuanced, structurally original work...the film's call for empathy and self-examination could not be more urgent.


Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are)

Urgent and complex, Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are) travels across the United States, exploring how Americans tell the story of their Civil War. Filmed from the last year of Obama’s presidency through 2019, it interweaves insightful scenes and touching interviews filmed North and South, painting a uniquely crafted, multi-faceted portrait of the American psyche and the deep roots of its turbulent times. With delicacy and strength, subtlety and determination, Civil War portrays a nation in denial, haunted by an embittered past and the stories it refuses to tell.

"In this time of reckoning in the country, Rachel Boynton’s journey into the heart of Civil War memory reveals just how contested, and personal, the meaning of this defining event in our history remains. From flags and monuments in the town square to family photos and forlorn cemeteries, we, the living, continue to grapple with how to confront this singular event of national trauma and the horrific slave system at its deepest confounding root. Especially poignant are the interviews and scenes within our schools, where teachers and students struggle to make sense of the hold that the Civil War has on us still. How can any of us wrap our minds around the ugliness of slavery, or the deaths of 750,000 Americans over its demise, or the tragically short-lived liberation of close to 4 million enslaved black Americans, who, in the aftermath, would step out as the vanguard of our boldest experiment in multiracial democracy, only to see Reconstruction–and so many of the hopes it ignited—violently overthrown by a counter-revolution that ushered in a century of Jim Crow and altered the story of the war, and its most important cause, for generations and generations to come. It is our duty to challenge each other, as this film does, to search for the truth, to heal, and to imagine a better, and more just, future for all." -Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Executive Producer, American literary critic, teacher, historian, filmmaker and public intellectual

"We are living in complex and difficult times as America is forced to come to grips with the legacy of slavery and racism. Rachel Boynton’s "Civil War" is a timely and important film that explores the deep roots of our national wound, begun in slavery and clearly not resolved. It speaks directly to our moment, as we aim to confront the truths of our racist world. We cannot hope to transform our society into a more just one unless we excavate our hidden prejudices, both personal and societal. "Civil War," with delicacy and strength, subtlety and determination, asks us each to look at ourselves, in the hope that we might begin to overcome what limits us personally and, by extension, our shared American landscape. For some, watching it might be discomforting and difficult; well, it's supposed to make you uncomfortable. We can't move forward unless we're all willing to make ourselves a little uncomfortable." -Sam Pollard, Executive Producer, acclaimed film producer, director and editor

"Rachel Boynton’s new film “Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are)” brought me to tears again and again. What a heart-breaking portrayal of a divided nation that, finally, may be reckoning with the legacy of slavery. Rachel’s interviews contain moments so tender and intimate that they feel like revelations. She fearlessly asks questions not only of her subjects but of herself. “Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are)” is a layered, nuanced, structurally original work, and as a new Civil Rights movement at long last gathers momentum, the film's call for empathy and self-examination could not be more urgent. -Joshua Oppenheimer, director of The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence
Not Rated
Documentary, History
Rachel Boynton
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