The Very best of Enemies | Film Testimonials | Films


“When two enemies are speaking, they are not fighting.”
— Daryl Davis, American musician

White supremacy — the belief that white men and women are superior to other races and have the correct to dominate them — is alive and nicely in the United States. Americans are struggling to fully grasp the roots and persistence of this insidious belief that is behind so lots of injustices getting perpetrated on minorities, in particular blacks. Motion pictures have shown us lots of examples of the effects of racism and neighborhood strife. But pretty handful of films have dramatized productive techniques out of the quagmire. How can hearts and minds be changed? How can enemies be transformed into buddies?

In every single neighborhood, there are men and women of hope and vision who dare to be bridge builders, crossing barriers made by extended-term prejudice, distrust, and worry. Often they do not know they have this possible till situations force them to take a stand. Such is the case in this story about the correct-life friendship of an African-American neighborhood activist, Ann Atwater, and the president of the neighborhood chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, C. P. Ellis. Written and directed by Robin Bissell, the film is primarily based on the bestselling book by Osha Gray Davidson.

The setting is Durham, North Carolina, in 1971. The schools in this city are nevertheless segregated, a predicament that suits the white all-male city council and the pretty public presence of the KKK. C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell), who owns a gas station, oversees Klan meetings he’s established a Youth Corp and tells a new member that he now belongs to a thing larger than himself. Soon after 1 meeting, C.P. and his correct-hand man Floyd (Wes Bentley) shoot up the home of a white lady who has been dating a black man.

In the black neighborhood, Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) is fighting to bring consideration to housing violations affecting black tenants. Soon after ultimately having a hearing at the city council, she and her supporters arrive to obtain the chamber filled with Klan members. Her distain of them, and theirs of her, are readily apparent.

What occurs subsequent surprises everyone. Soon after a black elementary college is practically destroyed by a fire, the neighborhood has to choose irrespective of whether or it not to let the black students to go to the white college. When the choice goes to a judge, he passes it back to the neighborhood by bringing in Bill Riddick (Babou Ceesay), a black organizer skilled in facilitating a “charrette.” This is a nonviolence conflict-resolution method that requires convening neighborhood-wide meetings to go over challenges, picking out a representative “Senate,” and establishing resolutions to be voted on by the Senate.

Riddick requires two prominent spokespersons to co-chair the two-week-extended charrette, and he asks Ann and C.P. reluctantly, they agree to speak for their communities. Initially, neither trusts the other, and neither is prepared to give an inch. C.P. is reminded of a thing in the Klan creed: “Failure to know your enemy provides them help and comfort.” Later, when Ann catches some black youth attempting to eliminate Klan literature from the meeting hall, she tells them that the Klan has provided them a window into how they believe, and they had much better study the pamphlets to attempt to fully grasp.

Even though we wished we could have been flies on the wall in the course of some of the neighborhood discussions — modest groups of mixed views speaking with each other and even getting forced to share tables in the lunchroom — the film focuses far more on the individual partnership that develops involving Ann and C.P. In a pivotal scene, a black parent disagrees with a statement that all parents want the similar items for their children: “Black children have a complete distinct menu of discomfort that we cannot spare them from. It is a helpless feeling.” Later, Ann tells C.P., who has a son with Down’s Syndrome in a neighborhood institution, that she knows he as well often feels helpless. She proves capable of each empathy with and kindness toward him. And he, in turn, starts to see her differently.

Relationships amongst men and women and in communities are largely the outcome of feelings. What feelings assistance white supremacy? A worry of losing energy, a sense that 1 is a victim and other folks are having ahead unfairly, and distrust of the stranger or “the other.” The Very best of Enemies dramatizes antidotes to all these feelings. When Ann and C.P. are empowered by getting in a position to share their views in the charrette, sense their mutual vulnerability and need for justice, and find out that they have far more in frequent than they ever imagined, they know they are equals.


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