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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.92%
Worth A Look27.03%
Average: 21.62%
Pretty Bad: 21.62%
Total Crap: 10.81%

3 reviews, 19 user ratings

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CSA: The Confederate States of America
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by EricDSnider

"A slave to a low budget, the film doesn't quite master its domain."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: The idea behind "CSA: The Confederate States of America" is such a good one that I wish a more talented filmmaker than Kevin Willmott, and one with better resources, had come up with it.

Imagine we live in an alternate reality where the South won the Civil War. Now imagine you're watching a local TV station one evening as it airs a British-made documentary about American history. "CSA: The Confederate States of America" is that documentary, complete with commercials that reflect the culture of modern Confederate America.

With a satiric eye, Willmott uses "historians" and faked news footage to show the last 143 years of American history. We see Lincoln's exile to Canada, an early D.W. Griffith silent film depicting his capture, and clips from the 1955 thriller "I Married an Abolitionist" (abolitionists where the big boogeymen in the '50s, rather than Communists). A commercial advertises daily reruns of "Leave It to Beulah," about a sassy slave in a white household. Before the documentary begins, viewers are warned that, due to its controversial nature (it was made by anti-slavery Brits, after all), it may not be suitable "for children or servants."

Willmott's imagination about how history would have changed with a Southern victory is perceptive and sharp. The Confederacy actually did have plans to colonize Latin America, so Willmott uses that. The anti-Negro philosophies of the day, made law by the new Confederate States of America, evolve into anti-everything, putting the C.S.A. right in line with Hitler when he comes along.

Some of the faked stock footage and newsreels are remarkably well done, notably the aforementioned D.W. Griffith short, which is also raucously funny. But others are obviously low-budget and shoddily made, and few of the actors are convincing. One of the keys to success here is making this faux documentary and its accompanying TV commercials look legit, and much of the material just doesn't cut it.

Another problem is the project itself: I think Willmott bit off more than he could chew. Retooling all of post-bellum American history is a huge project, and telling it in its entirety means making a film that feels too long. The jokes and satire would need to be more incisive than they are in order for the idea to sustain itself for 91 minutes.

This is dangerous territory. When we see a commercial for an outrageously racist restaurant, accompanied by undignified portrayals of happy slaves with their "yes, massa" dialect, do we laugh? And if we do, are we laughing at how absurd racism is, or are we laughing because happy slaves with their "yes, massa" dialect are funny? Are we laughing AT the blacks, or WITH them?

There is much potential for misunderstanding here, and Willmott's work, while notable in some regards, doesn't measure up.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 01/22/04 07:06:36
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 BendFilm Festival For more in the 2005 BendFilm Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/15/10 Jojo Bizarro The South fought for independence from the North, not to take it over! 1 stars
9/11/07 damalc funny how people are saying film is wrong about stuff that never happened 4 stars
4/08/07 Gloria Davis White people probably will not like it as it exposes too many painful truths that they are 5 stars
10/22/06 Mike Duffy Interesting concept but ineptly done - Willmott's idea of history is completely inadequite 2 stars
9/23/06 Dano Dumb, Dumb, Dumb. Imbecelic historical revisionism and total ignorance about the CSA. 1 stars
3/30/06 Ole Man Bourbon Too attached to commenting on real historical events to be able to advance the premise 3 stars
2/18/06 emir iğres 3 stars
8/22/05 Jeffrey Elliott Hitlers propaganda machine would be proud. What if the British won the revolutionary war? 1 stars
1/05/05 Georgian Sounds terrible 1 stars
12/31/04 Lon Wesson This could not be farther from the truth on what the CSA would have really done. 2 stars
11/27/04 Marty Keenan this film is a knockout 5 stars
11/11/04 Dan Barton slavery & bigotry...thought-provoking...timely 5 stars
5/23/04 D.D. This is a witty, thought-provoking film that needs to be seen. 4 stars
4/22/04 Darcelle Strother Great, worth watching, makes you think! 5 stars
3/25/04 Anne Mouyart Great! Kevin Willmott was my instructor last semester Fall 2003 at the University of Kansas 5 stars
3/08/04 Jeff Dziedzic I loved it, but yes, you feel bad laughing. 4 stars
2/19/04 Matthew Richardson It is cretive and thought provoking. I like the fact that it treads on dangerous waters. 5 stars
1/26/04 Papool Chaudhari I disagree with Snider: This movie is a wonderful MUST SEE concept film. 5 stars
1/24/04 Max Miller very funny, accomlished, insightful and brave 4 stars
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  DVD: 08-Aug-2006



Directed by
  Kevin Willmott

Written by
  Kevin Willmott

  Charles Frank
  Evamarii Johnson
  Rupert Pate
  Larry Peterson

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