The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on 25 May 2020 was the catalyst for Black Lives Matter protests which erupted across the United States and beyond. While this triggered a debate about memorials to our colonial past in Britain, there were already moves to remove Confederate statues from Southern towns and cities across America. These were often mired in the courts but this tragedy ensured a new momentum for the campaign.
In December 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate monuments from public places. This move resulted in protests and became an extremely divisive issue. When comedian CJ Hunt heard about the news, he decided to make a funny YouTube video. After listening to the heated opinions on both sides the Daily Show producer decided it was far more complex than he first thought. His investigations are captured in The Neutral Ground.
The Neutral Ground tackles a very serious subject with a sense of humour. And boy, doesn’t CJ Hunt need it at times. By focusing on one issue he opens up a can of worms around racism, conspiracy theories and populism in the US. Indeed, the simple refusal to accept facts as truth is frightening. Looking in from the outside, America is in a bit of a mess at the moment. By shining a light on one race-related issue The Neutral Ground asks important question about a country at war with itself.
The Neutral Ground screens at London Film Festival.