The Contradictions of Fair Hope | Chicago Reader

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67 minutes

This documentary looks at a century-old Alabama "benevolent society," a kind of social outreach program established by ex-slaves during Reconstruction to provide African-American citizens with medical treatment and religious services. Each September the society hosts a festival for the surrounding community, but as crime has increased, the decency of the festival has diminished; what started as a family-friendly event has since degenerated into an open-air market for sex, drugs, assault weapons, and fake designer handbags. Nothing much distinguishes this from your standard PBS documentary, but there is one striking and painful moment as the society's elderly contingent, steadfast in their traditional beliefs, empty out of a church service and into the festival fray. S. Epatha Merkerson and Rockell Metcalf directed.

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