The Society for Visual Anthropology said Banished—a documentary co-produced by CIR about racial cleansings in small American towns—”has great anthropological value” and honored the film with an Award of Commendation.
From the SVA website:
From the first minutes of filmmaker Marco Williams’ Banished, viewers know that they are in the hands of a master storyteller. Williams’ multi-layered and complex story takes us into the cultural history of racial cleansing in the American South. The film focuses on the long forgotten banishment of African American families from several southern towns in the early 1900s. It takes us on an historical and emotional journey from yellowed newspaper clippings of the time to the present day descendants of the banished families and their struggle to gain recognition, justice and compensation for the land and possessions appropriated from their ancestors over a hundred years ago.
Banished never takes an easy or obvious turn. It refuses to reduce the issues to good and evil. Instead it subtly, carefully weighs the complexity of race, history, memory and the clouded path towards seeking reconciliation and justice for injustices of a distant past.
Marco Williams’ respectful on-camera probing results in surprisingly honest and emotional responses from allies and opponents alike. One’s allegiances keep shifting in viewing this film, making the questions it raises more critical and lasting than the answers, questions the audiences will be thinking about days, months, perhaps years after viewing.
Banished has great anthropological value. It reveals the structure of land holding African American families at the turn of the century and the consequences of their banishment and disenfranchisement on their descendants generations later. It also reveals much about the values of “black free” towns in the South today and the long shadows cast there by injustices of the past.