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Meltdown In Dixie

In Orangeburg, SC, a battle erupts between the Sons of Confederate Veterans and an ice cream shop owner forced to fly the Confederate flag in his parking lot.

A printer-friendly version of this page 54 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Emily Harrold
Produced by Emily Harrold, Seth Gadsden
Editor: Rosie Walunas, Virginie Danglades
Executive Producer: Jedd Canty, Ryan Chanatry, Mahalia Cohen
Cinematographers: John Barnhardt, Kelly Creedon, Seth Gadsden, Kyle Kelley
A Lynnwood Pictures Production

"Brilliantly succeeds in giving voice to the common people caught in the collision of the past and the present." Peter S. Carmichael, Prof. Civil War Studies, Gettysburg Coll
[Note: Community screenings of MELTDOWN IN DIXIE can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]

Note: There are two versions of this program on the same DVD: 54-minutes and 40-minutes.

The Confederate flag has flown in the corner of an Orangeburg, South Carolina parking lot since 2000, when former ice cream shop owner Maurice Bessinger raised the flag in protest over it coming down from the SC State House dome. Bessinger, a self-avowed segregationist, deeded the plot of land where the flagpole stood to the local Sons of Confederate Vets chapter to ensure the flag continued to fly in Orangeburg long after his death.

In the wake of the 2015 Charleston Massacre, new creamery owner Tommy Daras, who once considered the flag an acceptable sign of a rebel, has a change of heart and commits to doing anything possible to get it down. But "Keeper of the Flag" Buzz Braxton and the Sons of Confederate Vets refuse. With Confederate symbols coming down around the country, can Tommy get the flag down in Orangeburg?

This intimate, verité-driven short documentary film explores the broader role of Confederate symbolism in the 21st century and the lingering racial oppression which these symbols help maintain.

Grade Level: 6 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2021     Copyright Date: 2021
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-68-2

"Meltdown in Dixie is an excellent and important film about an episode in our ongoing saga over Confederate symbols that lays bare the stakes of these debates for the everyday people affected by this complex issue. It is a fascinating and poignant film that raises frustrating but valuable questions over property rights, historical memory, and the slow pace of change."
William Sturkey, Associate Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Author, Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White

"Monuments falling, Confederate flags coming down, and people taking to protest racial injustice are the images of a Southern Lost Cause coming undone. Too often the lives of ordinary folks disappear in the national story. This film looks behind the dramatic headlines...This is a powerful film told through the voices of blacks and whites. Meltdown in Dixie brilliantly succeeds in giving voice to the common people caught in the collision of the past and the present."
Peter S. Carmichael, Professor of Civil War Studies, Director of the Civil War Institute, Gettysburg College, Author, The War for the Common Soldier: How Men Thought, Fought, and Survived in Civil War Armies

"Meltdown In Dixie is a moving and timely narrative of the modern South. Sensitively weaving together interviews on race, history, and politics, filmmaker Emily Harrold demonstrates how all combine to reverberate across generations and in different ways for various people. The narrative dramatically highlights the vicious legacy of white supremacy which still raises its ugly head; but countered by a coalition of Black and white locals who use both the rule of law and community activism to combat racism and help move the American experiment towards a truer multicultural democracy."
Orville Vernon Burton, Chair of History, Professor of Pan-African Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, and Computer Science, Clemson University

"Meltdown in Dixie is a riveting film that uses a local conflict over the Confederate battle flag in Orangeburg, South Carolina to educate viewers about the broader issues of race, memory, and power implicated in controversies over public displays of Confederate iconography. Its use of first-person narratives to illustrate these issues renders it an excellent documentary for learning about the ways in which symbols of the past continue to convey powerful meanings in the present and future. This film has resonance for a variety of audiences, and I highly recommend it."
Patricia Davis, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Northeastern University, Author, Laying Claim: African American Cultural Memory and Southern Identity

"Symbols are important. In public spaces they mark who belongs, who is welcome, and who is excluded. Meltdown in Dixie is an honest and empathetic portrayal of a controversy over the public display of the Confederate battle flag in a small South Carolina town. Through this film, students will be able to see the emotional power that historical memory exercises in the present, as well as the bravery and persistence it takes to overcome resistance to change. The film will work well for classes in which students are exploring the enduring power of the Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War in the American South."
Gabriel Reich, Associate Professor of History/Social Studies Education, Virginia Commonwealth University

"Meltdown in Dixie offers a sad, subtle, powerful examination of the confrontation over Confederate symbolism in one small southern town. It lets both sides speak as it reveals the racial tensions at the heart of the debate over a Confederate flag in front of a local creamery. With the flag still flying and the creamery closed at the end of the movie, the film will foster classroom discussion."
Gaines Foster, Professor of History, Louisiana State University, Author, Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South

"This is a timely film that demonstrates the tensions between those that want to fly the Confederate flag and those that find the flag offensive. As we grapple with our past, Meltdown in Dixie is an important tool that could be used in classrooms to help facilitate important discussions."
Andrea Benjamin, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies, University of Oklahoma

"Meltdown In Dixie focuses on Orangeburg, SC to discuss the broader issue of how the United States confronts (or fails to confront) white supremacy. The documentary highlights the pernicious qualities that contribute to white supremacy's resilience and the difficulties related to challenging the system and its related practices. Meltdown In Dixie offers educators a useful tool to spark more detailed discussions and student-driven projects."
Peter Simi, Associate Professor of Sociology, Chapman University, Co-author, American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement's Hidden Spaces of Hate

"Highly Recommended...A well-executed documentary...This film would be very useful for collections that focus on current history, monuments, public memory, or any other program that would benefit from primary source interviews on issues of national scale. As a case study tied to a broader context, it is unlikely to become obsolete as a historical primary source, and this creates ongoing value for a library to purchase it. Overall, Meltdown in Dixie is an excellent exploration of an important subject."
Alan Witt, SUNY Geneseo, Educational Media Reviews Online

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DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
DVD includes 54 minute and 40 minute versions of the film, English SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and scene selection.

Excellent Discussion Guide
Quick Guide

Awards and Festivals
Best Short, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Best National Short, AmDocs
Best Documentary Short, Ashland Independent Film Festival
Special Jury Award, Provincetown International Film Festival
Best Juried Short, San Francisco DocFest
Vimeo Staff Pick
AFI Fest
St. Louis International Film Festival
Sedona Film Festival
Florida Film Festival
New Orleans Film Festival
Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival
Dallas VideoFest
Montclair Film Festival
Macon Film Festival

African-American Studies
American Democracy
American Studies
Civil Rights
Conflict Resolution
Political Science
Race and Racism
Social Justice
Social Psychology
Southern Studies

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... more Reviews

"With its conversation on whether the Confederate flag is a racist slap in the face or a symbol of honor and personal liberty, this film offers ample opportunity to discuss free speech, civil rights, effective protest, legal precedents, and U.S. history."
School Library Journal

"Powerful...This film shows the extensiveness of white supremacy and how it can be at-once bureaucratic and terrifying, both predictable and unexpected. For that reason, it would be put to good use in teaching about white supremacy, whether in the classroom or in community education contexts focused on antiracism strategies and practices."
Hope Amason, Central Washington University, General Anthropology

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