CJ Hunt

Comedy writer and filmmaker
A m posing with a statute in the background.

Music Credit: “NY” composed and performed by Kosta T from the cd Soul Sand, used courtesy of the Free Music Archive.

CJ Hunt: In New Orleans, the neutral ground, that grassy median between two streets, is where people meet up to barbecue and be with their neighbors and catch beads and eat King Cake for Mardi Gras. It is a community space. It is also where the Confederacy chose to build all of its monuments. So the film is asking this question, what does it mean that the public space, intended for all of us, is literally occupied by 150-year-old army who fought to keep the majority of this city in chains?

Jo Reed:  That is filmmaker and writer CJ Hunt talking about his documentary The Neutral Ground and this is Art Works the weekly podcast from the National Endowment for the Arts—I’m Josephine Reed.

On July 10 of this year, the city of Charlottesville, Va., finally removed the statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson that were the focus of the deadly 2017 rally in which one woman was killed and dozens of others were injured.

Filmmaker CJ Hunt was at that rally.  He had spent years documenting the fight over removing four confederate monuments in New Orleans. A comedian and writer, CJ Hunt’s original thought was to make a short, satirical YouTube video—but that shifted as a bigger and more profound story became apparent. The result is a documentary called The Neutral Ground—a personal, disturbing, sometimes-funny, and informative exploration of the struggle over the monuments in New Orleans. But more broadly, the film, an official selection of the both the Tribeca Film Festival and AFI Docs, is an examination of collective memory, the myths of the confederacy, how history was re-written and reaffirmed, and the price paid, especially by Black people, to keep the story of “Lost Cause” alive.  I spoke with CJ Hunt at the beginning of July, before the statues came down in Charlottesville—Here’s our conversation.

Jo Reed: First of all, CJ Hunt, thank you for giving me your time. I saw your film, The Neutral Ground, at Tribeca and at AFI doc fest, and what a film.

CJ Hunt: I'm so honored to be here, thank you so much.

Jo Reed: You're welcome. Tell me just a little bit-- give me the thumbnail, the log-line, of "The Neutral Ground." And then, I want you to talk about how it came together and the whole thing.

CJ Hunt: Sure. So, I say that The Neutral Ground is a documentary about memory, monuments, and how to break up with the Confederacy. And I say that as both a, you know, a serious investigation and as someone who's a comedian. You know, I think the analogy works. I think we all, in our personal lives, have relationships that we fail to be honest about. Relationships in our past where we're like, actually, that ex was pretty good, and actually, it's totally normal that I kept all their stuff. And it's totally normal that I've kept all of their stuff and it's in the middle of the living room and my new partners are not weirded out about it at all. And I think that is what has happened with the Confederacy. That you cannot name another war where the losers have been able to erect thousands of monuments to themselves. And where they have been able to stay around so long that people forget that those who built them were just putting up a version of a story, and this is not all of our collective history that we do not have the right to question or to move.

Jo Reed: Amen to that. it's extraordinary to me. The adage is, history is written by the winners.

CJ Hunt: I mean, it is-- it's dark to think about, but it makes one raise the question, did the Confederacy lose?  On paper, of course they lost. But shortly after, they had the power to build thousands of monuments to themselves? And these folks, then, became the governors and mayors and state Supreme Court justices of all of these towns, the secessionists who were just fighting the government and lynching people and whose vigilante violence undid Reconstruction were allowed to take their seats in Congress? So I think the old adage falls apart here, when you realize that the ex-Confederates, the white supremacists who seceded from the nation and wrote down on paper, we're doing this to protect slavery, those people may have lost the war, but they absolutely won the peace and they won the nation and they won our national memory.

Jo Reed: You open your film, The Neutral Ground, with the public meetings in New Orleans about taking down four Confederate monuments, and that really sets the stage for your film. Now, when you were there filming, did you have a sense of what was going to unfold? What were your thoughts, walking into that meeting?

 CJ Hunt: So, it was 2015. I had moved to New Orleans in 2007 to become a teacher, and by 2015 I was living and working a lot as a comedian. But we were in this really harrowing moment where we had all just seen a white supremacist walk into Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and murder nine Black churchgoers. And we had seen his white supremacist manifesto surface online. And we had seen pictures of him holding guns and the Confederate flag. And we were at a moment where, even after that, lawmakers were on the floor saying that the flag of the Confederacy still belonged over the capitol in South Carolina. So that desire to hold onto the Confederacy in the face of white supremacist violence, in the face of, you know, truth, was what interested me. And, you know, as that fight moved to New Orleans, and that summer, organizers who became Take 'Em Down NOLA were already burning Confederate flags and marching and pushing the Mayor to take these four monuments down, that when the city had these hearings you saw the same sort of resistance and holding onto the past and inability to move forward of white New Orleanians getting up one after the other and saying this was not about slavery, the Civil War wasn't about slavery, and actually, slavery wasn't that bad, and the real thing we need to talk about is how the first slave owners were Black in Africa, and actually, the real thing we need to talk about are the Black thugs beating up tourists in the city. So it was a moment where the veil of propriety and civility around what people don't say had slipped, and people were just saying a level of open racist myths, that it was like, oh my god, they are saying this out loud. So I started rolling camera to try to capture that moment in history.

Jo Reed: And your thought, at that time, was to make a short, comic YouTube video .

CJ Hunt: Yeah. I mean, if someone had said, hey, the issue that you're filming right now, this fight over how hard some folks are going to hang onto these four objects-- if someone had said, filming those is going to take you down a path where you are going to see Charlottesville and white terrorists take lives --   also see some of those same people  attack the Capitol, I don't think I would have embarked on that journey, and I certainly wouldn't have tried to make it a comedy. We didn't know any of those things were coming, but the fact that, you know, the question we were asking, like what comes up from the ground when you pull on a Confederate monument, we learned the answer to that over the six years that we were making, and the answer, I think, is pretty harrowing.

Jo Reed: Well, it was-- even as people are insisting this is-- they are not about white supremacy, and that was certainly the argument in New Orleans, where one of them is literally a monument to the White League--

CJ Hunt: Yeah, it's like, have you read it? Have you-- in 1932, this monument actually received an inscription that shouted out the words "white supremacy." It was literally inscribed on a monument dedicated to an organization called the White League whose whole goal was to teach Blacks to beware of further insolence. These guys attacked the government. These guys are the original capitol rioters. They had killed police in the streets, they held the New Orleans state government for three days, I mean-- and then they escaped punishment and one of them became Mayor, and one of them became a state Supreme Court justice, and together, they unveiled the Lee Monument.

Jo Reed: You know, in so many ways, I think your film is about the way history is made, how it's created. And the mythology around the Confederacy, which is now perceived as fact, is a pretty transparent case study of this.

CJ Hunt: I think, you know, this film is not just about the Confederacy and the lie of the lost cause. This film is about what we think history is. You know, for most of us, history is not based in any primary sources, you know? The kids I knew and grew up with were not like, let's get hyped for documents. You know, most of us, what we think of history is the stories we were passed. And I think a lot of us grew up with stories that didn't make sense, and the Confederacy, you're absolutely right, is just a case study of states rights, great, which specific rights? Don't worry about it, just the principle of states rights. Yeah, yeah, but it's plural? Is there anything besides slavery? No, it wasn't about slavery. Well, then, why do you guys keep talking about slavery? Like there are things that never made sense about that story, and I think, through comedy, they come through in this film.

Jo Reed: Well, you decided to insert yourself into the film along the way.

CJ Hunt: Yes.

Jo Reed: Yeah, tell me about that decision and the various ways you did that.

CJ Hunt: Yeah. At the time, I was not trying to be a filmmaker, you know? In 2015, I was trying to be a comedy writer, a late night writer. So I didn't watch a ton of documentary, I wasn't thinking about how documentaries are made. I was just like, I want to go roast and make jokes about people who want to say out loud that slavery was not that bad. The only visual language I have a reference for is late night television. So I know that I need to dress up in a suit, I know that I need to get a handheld microphone, and I need to write some jokes. And so, that's how this started. If I could do it again, I probably wouldn't put myself on screen, and I'd probably figure out, you know, a way to just be behind the camera and a little bit freer. But because we started out on that path, it was kind of like, all right, CJ, you have to stay on screen for this whole time, you have to wear the same blue shirt and red tie for six years, and you have to figure out a way to get past like superficial little jokes like "would you keep P.G.T. Beauregard if we took the Confederate off and just kept the horse? Is just the horse fine for you? Just like a little set of jokes, but we had to figure out, if I'm going to be on screen, what is the truth that I'm telling about myself, about my family, about how I view history, about how I am still under the grip of whiteness. And that's what the film became.

Jo Reed: Well, your father plays a small but very pivotal role in the film--

CJ Hunt: Thanks.

Jo Reed: And the give and take between you two is both eye-opening and at times very funny, and it's that combination, I think, that can open people up to hear things.

CJ Hunt: Yeah, I think it's both of them, right? if I didn't appear on camera, and I was just like, “Welcome to the film, now, let's talk about white supremacy. Here are the documents. Here is the footage.” You know, there's a way that that can be overwhelming. But it's not that we're putting sugar in the medicine, but we're just changing the language with which we have the convo. You know, the language is just you spending 82 minutes watching a character who is me stumbling his way through this mystery, you know? Through this mystery of how I came to see the world, of how Confederate monuments moved from graveyards to dominate our public spaces, this mystery about how, you know, the United Daughters of the Confederacy literally rewrote history and inserted a version of propaganda into textbooks that we still believe is history, you know? You are just watching me make mistakes and stumble and grow and find myself. And I think that that is ultimately a more engaging viewing experience, and allows people the grace to change their opinions than if I, as the filmmaker, was just like, look at the documents, look at what you did.  And I think that relationship with my dad, I think people recognize that, you know? I have Jewish friends who are like, yes, my dad is the same. He talks about look what was done to the ancestors. And I think, for some white audiences, it is-- they're not only laughing at something recognizable, which is a father who's just dunking on his kid's version of the story, of like, that's not at all what happened-- it's funny, but I also think it's giving white viewers something that they've maybe never seen before, which was a look at how Black parents need to talk to their kids in order for those kids to stay healthy and alive in this country. So, in one minute you're laughing, and at the other minute you're like, yes, if you're a Black parent you have to have that convo with your kids about what this country's done to Black people so that they can survive.

Jo Reed: And also it's a micro version of the macro story you're telling.  Where you have your version of history, and your father is, no, no, that's not what happened.

CJ Hunt: Yeah, I mean, you know, James Baldwin is a really big fan of saying, if you want to talk about the truth about America, you have to talk about the truth about yourself. So it was a fun way to start the film, a film that is about myth, a film that is about the stories that we misremember, by me telling a story that I tell myself, and my dad myth-busting on it and being like, that's not actually what happened.

Jo Reed: Yeah, being schooled.

CJ Hunt: Yeah, getting schooled.

Jo Reed: During the filming you participated in a Civil War reenactment, which, I have to say as a viewer, I found kind of surprising.

CJ Hunt: Yeah.

Jo Reed: Tell me why you decided you were actually going to participate, and what did you want from it? What were you looking for?

CJ Hunt: What am I looking for? What am I looking for? I think, in the film, it was important not to just condemn a set of beliefs about the Confederacy, which is easy and which makes sense to me and which, you know, a lot of think pieces were doing. But we needed to explore it. We needed to give examination to the lie, for everyone to see how rickety it is, and how, internally, it doesn't make sense, you know? That it is strange that the same people who say, this wasn't about slavery, also want to say, but also slavery was not that bad. You know, those things don't make sense. It's like if your friend was like, my wife divorced me and it had nothing to do with cheating. On an unrelated note, cheating's not that bad. You'd be like, Craig, what are we talking about? Just the pure amount that you are fixating on this, you know, shows the lie. So it was important for us to investigate that and show how rickety that is and what that lie is made of. We do that mainly through talking to the leader of the Louisiana Sons of Confederate Veterans, Thomas Taylor. But as a filmmaker, I was anxious that viewers would see this and go, you just found someone with extreme views. You just found some guy who says wild stuff. And it was important for me to go into Neo-Confederate spaces like the Civil War reenactment to show: this is not just one guy. This is not just a set of extremists. This is an entire culture, and this is how folks view their heritage and their past. And that this is both a terrifying space, if you are Black, but it is also a folksy, fun space. So I think it is not the same as the scene where we go to Charlottesville. I think, when you go to this Confederate reenactment, part of you is kind of having fun. You're worried for me, but you're like, ooh, they make chili and they're having a cookout and look at the kids. You know, I was there, and I was like, this reminds me of James Taylor concerts my parents took me to in Massachusetts. That you see that the lie of the lost cause is so sticky. It is so immovable because it masks itself in nostalgia. It becomes a platform that people build their memories on, so that when you say, hey, I want to talk about the truth of the Confederacy, people are going, I cannot do that, because you doing that threatens to undo all of my memories with my family, camping out and having this incredible time.

Jo Reed: We also have to say, you certainly don't just throw this on the South. You really talk about Northern complicity as well, and how the North was more than happy to promulgate this lovely, graceful culture, dripping with magnolias, in which Blacks were happy slaves and whites were benevolent owners.

CJ Hunt: The South-- the antebellum South was a terrifying, stinky, disgusting place where most white people were desperately poor because their leaders failed them, and almost all Black people were property who you could kill, sell, or rape at will, and the entire society revolved around the dehumanization of these people. And if you were a poor white, you definite-- you may not have owned a slave, but you definitely belonged on a slave patrol. And entire towns would go out and hunt these people down. If you were a poor white, you were being told, at the time of secession, oh, of course, you don't own slaves, but if these slaves are set free, they are coming for you. They are coming for your daughters. They are coming for an entire way of life. This was a terrifying place. And the only reason that we think that some people still think about it as this beautiful place of milk and magnolias, with the, you know, live oaks and the large porches and the iced tea-- the only reason we think about that is because white Southerners romanticize this and white Northerners made it our entertainment industry, made it pop culture. We all know that the film "Birth of a Nation" was responsible for the rebirth of the KKK. Where do we think "Birth of a Nation" was shot? We think that that was shot in the South? It was shot on a lot in LA. "Gone With The Wind," with the slave children dancing on the bells and, you know, Scarlett O'Hara's slave who just loves her so much. That was made in LA, and that has rewritten people's memory. Christy Coleman, in our film, who is the CEO of the American Civil War Museum says it. More people are familiar with pop culture than they are with history. And this is what the North made. This is who made Aunt Jemima. That was us in the North. And that is what we must reckon with.

Jo Reed: Well, your film is also very scholarly. As personal as it is, and humorous in moments, it's very scholarly in a kind of backhanded way. Like you're giving people information and we're taking it in without really realizing how much information you're handing out here.

CJ Hunt: We're sneaking it in. We're sneaking the scholars in. You think it's jokes, but we've got scholars.

Jo Reed: Boy, do you ever. And you talk to a lot of historians about the making of the history of the lost cause. And in terms of the statues that honor the Confederacy, you know, what stood out-- obviously, they were put up after Reconstruction, after a time when Black people had been able to assert their rights, and then erected near courthouses, for example, really as a show of power dynamics in a city or a town.

CJ Hunt: Yeah. It's one of my favorite parts of the film, but you can see a graph-- and this was-- the data comes from the Southern Poverty Law Center, we make it into this, I think, beautiful and harrowing graph. You can see these monuments built, year by year, you know? And these monuments aren't built in the 1860s, you know? The few monuments that were built right after the war were small monuments in cemeteries, because that's where you would go to mourn the dead. But we don't get giant monuments in public space, in the middle of towns, until 1884, with the erection of the Lee Monument in New Orleans, right? So there's this giant gap in between there. And when you look at what happened in that gap, it was Reconstruction, which was then undid by white supremacist violence. And if you look at just New Orleans, the two men who are, you know, on the record, unveiling this monument, are named Behan and Fenner. And Behan is the Mayor, and Fenner is a state Supreme Court justice who upheld Plessy versus Ferguson. And both of them, just a few years before, were attacking the New Orleans government and killing cops in the streets and trying to teach Black people a lesson. That is what these monuments are made of. That is who put these monuments up.  They are writing a story into our textbooks, they are writing Black oppression into the law with Jim Crow, and they are using the other hand to write that story literally into stone, into the landscape.

Jo Reed: And as we mentioned, with a big helping hand from their Northern brethren.

CJ Hunt: They are doing it-- they are doing it under the applause, with the funding of Northerners. Every one of these speeches has a section where they're like, we would like to welcome our Northern guests. And that is something that the North has written out of what we teach our children as well.

Jo Reed:  A few brass tacks here about making the film. Where did you get the money to make the film? How did you get funding?

CJ Hunt: For the first couple of years of this film, it was, you know, me and my producer, Darcy, just trying to grab pieces of our savings to-- you know, to give to our friends or our cameraman so that we can drive to Virginia. And then, once we had some pieces in place, once people could see the interview with my dad and some of our footage in Charlottesville, people could finally see the potential of the film, and that's when we started getting funders. You know, ITVS, who funds a lot of PBS, you know, incredible PBS projects, they came and gave us money. Firelight Media, who's an incredible, you know, group of filmmakers of color that I'm a part of and that is, you know, producing some of the best films out there—that’s Stanley Nelson, Loira Limbal, you know, Ashley O'Shay, like Cecilia Aldarondo, with her film "Landfall." You know, so many of the incredible films that you are going to see this year and films that you are still talking about from last year are from Firelight Media. They were some of our first backers. Our very first backer was the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation.  Before we really had anything, they could see what was happening for us. So,  as we figured out what our voice was, and as white supremacist violence got clearer and clearer,   it became clear for folks, the value of this story. So Southern Documentary Fund has backed us, New America has backed us, the Center for Asian American Media, CAAM, has backed us. Even though I only barely talk about being Filipino, for them, it was important, because for them, you know, they're like, “Look. this is a story about being mixed and figuring out your identity.” So I feel really lucky that we have been able to get the money we need to make this film and tell this story, because when you are editing concurrently and you are filming for six years, that has a price.

Jo Reed: Oh, god, does it ever. And I'm also curious about the editing process, which had to have been difficult.

CJ Hunt: I want everyone to look up the name Sultana Isham. She is our composer, who, you know, you feel her heart beat so much through this. And I also want you to look up the name Jane Geisler. And Jane Geisler is not on any of the socials, but you can find her, you know-- her portfolio, and good luck hiring her, because she's so busy now. But she was my other-- if Darcy McKinnon was my left hand in making this, Jane Geisler was my right hand. She is just such an incredible editor. And she helped me find this-- find our way through. She helped me skim out all of these parts that feel like late night, and push to find something true in who I am. She was my Northstar in being like, CJ, I know you are fighting for this silly, silly joke, where you think you're doing a slam-dunk on these Neo-Confederates, but that joke makes us not trust you, and that joke is you hiding your own fear. So, we need to privilege truth over you looking funny in this film.

Jo Reed: And the film is being distributed. That is a big deal—so people will have a chance to see it. It’s has been on POV, and is available for streaming on PBS. And you don’t need to be a member of PBS to be able to stream it, correct? It’s free until August 4th?

CJ Hunt:  Yes! PBS brings all of these incredible documentaries to people for free. They don't even try to trick you with a, hey, do you want to put your credit card down now? They bring it to you for free because it's important to advance democracy through public media. It is literally as easy as going to Google and typing The Neutral Ground, PBS, and then you'll be able to see exactly where to stream it for free.

Jo Reed: And another reason to love PBS.  The film has multiple codas. The monuments come down in New Orleans, and here's a satisfying ending. But then, you and Aziz Abdul, who's this wonderful photographer, go to Charlottesville. What was it, a "Save Our Monuments" rally? "Save Our Statues"? You know, the rally.

CJ Hunt: Yeah, it was called "Unite The Right," and we remember it as oh, those tiki torch guys in Charlottesville. But we forget that they were there to thwart the democratic decision of the Charlottesville City Council to take down a monument of Robert E. Lee.

Jo Reed: And suddenly, in Charlottesville, it is a new ballgame of what is going on. I mean, if you want to talk about tearing off masks, whoa. That's lifting a rock. And you clearly look terrified, as you should have done. I would have been. But it really changes, in I think a very profound way, your film.

CJ Hunt: Yeah. I mean, I was deeply haunted by it, you know? It made it impossible to-- it made it impossible to end with a feel good ending of looking at the empty Robert E. Lee pedestal, because all of a sudden, we were in a-- you know, we were facing the same thing that I think Black legislators in Reconstruction were facing, where, in one moment, you think that we are in power, and the next, you were like, oh my god, I think we have turned a corner. I think we are losing, and I think white supremacy is going to win. And in the summer of 2017, you know, when these white supremacists were able to march, unmolested, through UVA campus, were able to beat people into a coma that night, and were then able to reassemble and march through Charlottesville and kill people in broad daylight, and when the President was then calling them "very fine people," that had a level of existential terror that far surpasses any physical terror that we had-- that me and Aziz had being there, marching with-- marching next to them. You know, I think that people play that footage over and over again, you know-- they've become a shorthand for what white supremacy looks like in this country. But what we have forgotten is that most of them went back to their lives working at Best Buy or hedge funds or wherever they work, but that that monument, to a slave owner, to a traitor, that the city had decided should come down in the summer of 2017, that that monument is still up. We're in July 2021, and that monument is still up.

Jo Reed: And then, of course, with May of 2020 and George Floyd's murder-- this is the other coda, along with marches and rallies-- the monuments to Confederates, to white supremacists, are being pulled down by people, outside of any kind of, you know, city hall or official channels. And that seems like a very important moment.

CJ Hunt: There was a time when the first thing you saw on screen in this film was going to be the sentence, "in the summer of 2015, there was an outrageous public act of white supremacist murder, and in response, people started asking questions about Confederate monuments." And you were going to see that same sentence over and over again. "In the summer of 2017, there was an outrageous, undeniable public act of white supremacist violence, and in response"-- "In the summer of 2020…, and I think the tragedy of this film is the fact that Black people have been trying to speak about the horror of public Confederate monuments since Frederick Douglass. You know, in the 1870s, he's like, what the hell is happening? How are we building a monument to Lee? But the only time the nation is able to tune into that radio frequency and actually hear us is when an incredible act of white supremacist violence has happened. So I think that is a tragedy.  But I think the thing that changed with the lynching of George Floyd was that people firmly stopped waiting for permission. This was trickling after Charlottesville. You know, we saw "Do It Like Durham" and folks pulling down statues, UNC pulling down statues after Charlottesville, but it became clear, after the murder of George Floyd, that we are no longer waiting. We are not waiting for police systems to change, and we are not waiting for city governments to, you know, have all the sign-offs to relocate a monument.  And it was important for us to capture that because the whole film so far had been about us waiting for permission to move these monuments, and that is a tectonic shift in how people think about freedom.

Jo Reed:    The title of your film, The Neutral Ground, describe what the neutral ground is.

CJ Hunt: Every city has a piece of grassy median between two streets, you know? And in some cities, you see someone spinning a sign there to tell you that Linens 'N Things is going out of business. But here, it is a community space. It has always been a community space, and it has always been, intentionally, a gathering place between different communities. In New Orleans, the neutral ground, that grassy median between two streets, is where people meet up to barbecue and be with their neighbors and catch beads and eat King Cake for Mardi Gras. It is a community space. It is also where the Confederacy chose to build all of its monuments. So the film is asking this question, what does it mean that the public space, intended for all of us, is literally occupied by 150-year-old army who fought to keep the majority of this city in chains?

Jo Reed: And I think that's a good place to leave it. CJ, thank you. It's a great film, and obviously an important one, so thank you for making it.

CJ Hunt: Thank you for giving us the time. And I say this not because I want social media followers, but because this is the easiest way to talk to us. If you know a teacher who would love this film, if you know a teacher who we should know about who does an incredible job at teaching the Civil War and Black freedom, you can find us on all the socials @itsnotneutral. Tell us about that teacher. Let's figure out how to get this film in your schools. Let's figure out what teachers we can be amplifying on our side. So thank you so much for making the space for us, and shout out to teachers.

Jo Reed: Excellent, and I share that shout out, thank you.

That was filmmaker CJ Hunt. We were talking about his documentary, The Neutral Ground. You can stream The Neutral Ground for free until August 4th at pov.org.

You’ve been listening to Art Works produced at the National Endowment for the Arts. I’m Josephine Reed—stay safe and thanks for listening.

 

In 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate monuments from public grounds. Death threats, protests, lawsuits, and rallies ensued, and writer and comedian CJ Hunt thought the situation ripe for a short satirical YouTube video.  He was curious “why a losing army from 1865 still holds so much power in America.” He covered the hearings and protests, and a bigger story began to emergeone with profound implications. The result of Hunt’s exploration is a documentary called The Neutral Grounda personal, disturbing, sometimes-funny, and informative exploration of the struggle over the monuments in New Orleans. But more broadly, the film, an official selection of the both the Tribeca Film Festival and AFI Docs, is an examination of collective memory, the myths of the Confederacy, how history was rewritten and reaffirmed, and the price paid, especially by Black people, to keep the story of “Lost Cause” alive.  In this podcast, Hunt talks about the film’s journey from short funny video to a timely and scholarly documentary, his decision to insert himself as a central character in the film, the conversations Black people have been having about these monuments since Frederick Douglass, and how humor can be a great method to get people to examine uncomfortable truths.