Film and TV

C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America

Kevin Willmott's satirical fantasy, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, embraces the fictions that the South won the Civil War (better make that "the War of Northern Aggression"), that disgraced Abraham Lincoln fled to Canada (so did Thoreau, Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe), that slavery now exists in all fifty states, that if you flick on the boob tube you'll find regular episodes of a sitcom called Leave It to Beulah and spots for products like "Sambo" motor oil additive and electro-shock collars used to keep black servants close to home. Willmott, an African-American film professor at the University of Kansas, styles much of his outrageous mockumentary on the bland, talking-head tropes of Ken Burns, which he gleefully savages. But in some ways, this hilarious farce, "produced" by the bogus "British Broadcasting Service," is also pretty scary stuff, not least in its inversions of some discomfiting historical truths: Hollywood's romantic mythologizing of the Civil War; the perils of an imperialist foreign policy; the nation's struggle for moral decency and civil rights. Willmott cleverly redirects the course of American history, and it winds up giving us a much-needed kick in the butt. The film was produced by Spike Lee, and for the most part, it's sharper than Lee's own recent work.

C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America opens Friday, March 10, for a one-week run at the Starz FilmCenter in the Tivoli Student Union, 900 Auraria Parkway. For information, call 303-820-3456.

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Bill Gallo
Contact: Bill Gallo