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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

REVIEW: 'This is Not the South'

Actor Ryan Perry, a native of Coeburn, Va., who has performed the role of Jack Hale in the outdoor drama
Actor Ryan Perry, a native of Coeburn, Va., who has performed the role of Jack Hale in the outdoor drama "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine," plays one of the lead roles in "This is Not the South." He describes his character as an aspiring filmmaker who intends to make a movie about the Civil War.

Local Film Hints at Faulkner, Woody Allen


*** Published: July 31, 2009, in the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier. ***

Let me be clear from the get-go: I am not an expert on film, arty or otherwise.

But I am a Southerner and, I like to think, a somewhat dispassion-ate observer of the human scene, at least in my rather confused and confusing part of the old Confederacy.

After all, eastern Tennesseans and southwestern Virginians were pretty much equally divided up among those who favored the North, those who favored the South and those who flat didn't give a hoot either way a pattern that, I would argue, continues to this very day.

And, I may be wrong I frequently am but my take is that the new independent film, "This is Not the South," produced by former Barter actors Derek Davidson and Karen Sabo, pretty much nails this slippery blob of Stars "n Bars Jello to the wall, although the wall is made of falling water.

Sort of a buddy film, sort of a travelogue about the Bristol area, sort of an advertisement for big red, too-clean-to-be-real Dodge pick-em-up trucks, "This is Not the South" follows the adventures if you can call them that of a would-be filmmaker trying to use a tiny handheld video camera to make a movie about a horse-thieving Confederate general, a young African-American man who runs an art and antique store and who may or may not be gay and a girl with a horrible haircut who has drifted back into town looking for work and snacks to shoplift.

Along the way, this unlikely trio forms a friendship of sorts as they encounter irate convenience store owners, banjo-playing hippy artists, Bible-thumping mechanics and the girl's father, who threatens to beat up the bunch of them with a variety of golf clubs.

If you are expecting wild car chases a la "The Dukes of Hazzard," hateful portrayals of southerners as in "Deliverance," violence as in just about every depiction of the south from "Snuffy Smith" to "Easy Rider," or incest or nudity, you will be disappointed. This is a quiet little film that raises a lot of questions and answers none about the South and we who live here in this rapidly changing miasma that we think we know and sometimes love
Actors include Frank Green, Kirstie Sensky, Andrew Ryan Perry, John Hardy, Rick McVey and Scott Koenig. Davidson, who wrote and directed, and Sabo, who produced, also appear briefly. The sparse soundtrack features Tim Stafford, Dave Yates, Bruce White and Cliff Salyer.

There's quite a bit of local footage shot in and around the Bristol area, which should please locals, but just confuse everybody else. Also, the frequent references to NASCAR left me scratching my head and will do the same to most people who fail to see the point of driving in circles when you could be using the same gas to be going somewhere.

Such use of local stuff, in my opinion, limits this film's chances for a wider audience, but, then again, Woody Allen has become very successful despite shooting most of his drab little films in small New York City apartments which is as alien a world to most of us as stock car numbers are to the great majority of Americans.

If you like small and thoughtful films, see "This is Not the South."

To find our more about the film, click HERE.

A! ExtraTopics: Film, Review