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Moving Midway - documentary DVD / independently produced DVD review
MOVING MIDWAY Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating: 4 stars
Featuring: Godfrey Cheshire, Robert Hinton, Charlie Hinton Silver
Director: Godfrey Cheshire   Distributor: First Run Features
DVD release: 17 February 2009   Runtime: 98 min. (1 disc)
Format: Black & White, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Widescreen
DVD Features: 2.35:1, Audio tracks (Dolby Digital Stereo - English), Photo gallery: How to Move a House, Bonus scenes and interviews

Take a skillfully made "home movie" format, mix well with the documentary public television approach, season with large sprinkles of Southern American history, serve with empathy and sensitivity, and the result is this rich, moving, vibrant film by Godfrey Cheshire.

Any documentary that exposes family history to the judgmental public eye seems to take a step into a fiery furnace. Godfrey Cheshire's family lived on Midway Plantation some 150 years. When his cousin takes it to mind to move the old manse from its original site to a new location (so a mall can be built on their old stomping grounds,) Godfrey decides that the time is ripe for the stories entwined with the house to come into the light.

As the subtitle of the movie states, this is a documentary about "A Southern Plantation and the Legacy of Slavery." Although Godfrey's intent seems originally focused on the house, its original environs and the family memories that dwelt within the walls, it's not long before a storm raises its head and the hidden history of family ties to the slaves who worked the plantation become known. Each revelation brings the family closer to understanding - and appreciating - the rich heritage from the enslaved blacks, which leads them to recognition of that concurrent strain of family running along side their white roots.

Finding a completely new family is one of the dynamics of discovery within this film. Alongside Dr. Robert Hinton (who shares the same last name as Godfrey's cousin Charlie) a black NYU history professor, Godfrey explores the ramifications of Hinton's grandfather, apparently born into slavery on the plantation.

From that framework, the social, architectural and historical perspectives are unraveled, and the players come to see that despite the embarrassment of having to acknowledge the family's past indiscretions, the two branches of the family can only enrich each other's lives and grow in knowledge of both the past and the present. In that evolution, the future of the extended family is incredibly enhanced, as is the future of us all.

Highly recommended for students of American history, those interested in healing the hurts of slavery, and those who believe that "those who forget the lessons in history are doomed to repeat them..."
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reviewed by Laura Strathman Hulka
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