When New York film critic Godfrey Cheshire returns home to North Carolina in early 2004 and hears that his cousin Charlie Silver plans to uproot and move the buildings of Midway Plantation, their family’s ancestral home, an extraordinary, emotional journey begins. Charlie’s plan is a controversial one within their extended family. Some fear the move will destroy Midway. Others worry about the reaction of the plantation’s ghosts, including Miss Mary “Mimi” Hinton, Midway’s eccentric owner when Charlie and Godfrey were kids. There’s another group who may be concerned too. Charlie says he was recently visited by a man who claimed that their family has a large, previously unknown African-American branch, due to a liaison between Midway’s builder and a plantation slave. Back in New York, Cheshire fortuitously encounters Robert Hinton, an NYU professor of African-American studies who says his grandfather was born a slave at Midway. While beginning a dialogue on the meaning of Midway from their very different perspectives, Cheshire and Hinton examine how the Southern plantation, a crucial economic institution in early America, generated a powerful, bitterly contested mythology that was at the center of a string of American cultural milestones.
A discussion will be facilitated by Harry Watson, the Atlanta Alumni Distinguished Professor of Southern Culture in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
This screening is a part of the Southern Culture Movie Series, presented by The Writing Center at UNC. The series is designed to be an entertaining and critical introduction to the American South for international students and scholars, but all screenings are free and open to the public. The series will showcase films that focus exclusively on North Carolina. Many of the movies in this series are available at the Media Resources Center.