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With: Frances Causey
Written by: Frances Causey
Directed by: Frances Causey, Maureen Gosling
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 91
Date: 06/13/2018
IMDB

The Long Shadow (2018)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Slave Away

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This documentary about racism comes on the heels of Ava DuVernay's similar 13th, but, because Frances Causey's doc is both eye-opening and hauntingly personal, there's room for two such powerful works.

In The Long Shadow, filmmaker Causey describes how she grew up in the south, where her family had black servants, and how she loved them like family. Now she has begun to reconsider her past and decides to traces the roots of slavery up to the racism of today. She looks at positives, such as Canada, which had no slave system, as well as one Virginia slave owner that released his slaves.

She looks at how, throughout history, legislation in American has tended to keep black people down, including the notorious Jim Crow and Fair Housing laws. She interviews many experts on the subject, and it all leads up to one sad truth: that racism is very much an integral part of the history of America. But, ultimately, she hopes that kindness and understanding can prevail.

There might be some discussion or controversy over whether a white woman has the right to tell a story about racism, and especially a white woman from the south whose family kept black servants and whose ancestors owned slaves. But Causey bravely appears on camera and outlines her feelings of doubt and outrage. She's compassionate and honest, and her efforts are admirable.

Despite the film's throughline, so similar to 13th, that traces the end of slavery through the turbulent Civil Rights movement and up to today, The Long Shadow easily finds plenty of fresh ground to cover, including the information about Canada and about Virginia slave owner Robert Carter, who freed his slaves and still prospered.

Causey seems to have more direct access to the southern regions of the United States, and records many personal stories. Her interviewees are a strong mix of African-American and white experts, and all of them add equally to the thesis. She traces the effect of slavery all the way up to an incident of hatred and racism on the factory floor at Lockheed Martin. Yet she leaves the movie seemingly changed and still hopeful that the goodness of humans can prevail.

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