Propaganda, History & Racial Justice
CJ Hunt and Face2Face host David Peck talk about his film The Neutral Ground, memory and racial justice, rewriting history, propaganda, troubling stories we tell and why it’s time to be honest, out loud and in public.
An official selection of the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, The Neutral Ground begins in 2015 as Hunt documents a raucous New Orleans City Council meeting about the removal of four Confederate monuments. It quickly becomes apparent just how divided white and Black residents are on the meaning of the city's statues. This tension between what to Hunt seems obvious – that the statues should be removed – and the fervor with which so many people oppose this view opens an opportunity for him to try and understand the mythology of the Confederacy and why Americans are willing to put so much on the line to guard its stone remnants.
When death threats halt the removals in New Orleans, Hunt hits the road, travelling across the South to try and understand why a losing army from 1865 still holds so much political and imaginative power in contemporary America.
Executive producer Roy Wood Jr. notes, “This film tells the story of people courageously dragging this nation into a promising and progressive conversation about racial reckoning. It’s also the story of those who refuse to admit that this reckoning has arrived." Raised in Birmingham, Alabama, a correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and known as one of the country's most incisive comedians on issues of race, Wood continues, "CJ’s approach to this topic ties into a much larger question facing America: How do we heal this nation’s deepest wounds when there are still so many people who won’t acknowledge those wounds exist?”
A comedian and filmmaker living in NYC, CJ is currently a field producer on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has also served as a staff writer for A&E's Black and White, and a field producer for BET's The Rundown with Robin Thede.
Before working in late night, CJ spent nine years living in New Orleans where - in 2015 - he began filming what he thought would be a quick and easy confederate monument removal.
CJ is an alumnus of Firelight Media's Doc Lab and New Orleans Film Festival's Emerging Voices program. He is also a 2020 New America Fellow and a regular host of The Moth.
A graduate from Brown University's Africana Studies department, CJ is endlessly fascinated by race and comedy's ability to say what we can't.
Image Copyright and Credit: CJ Hunt
For more information about David Peck’s podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here.
With thanks to Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.
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