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TWO TOWNS OF JASPER

USA, 2002 (MIFF 2002, Documentaries)

Director: Whitney Dow, Marco Williams

In June 1988, one of the worst racially motivated crimes since desegregation occurred in a small Texan town. Three young white men dragged African American James Byrd behind their vehicle for over five kilometers down a dirt road, tearing his body apart. The case drew unprecedented international attention due to its nature.

Two of the killers received the death penalty, the third got life. Was justice served? Directors Marco Williams (black) and Whitney Dow (white) decided that although a sentence was handed down, attitudes in Jasper stayed the same. One director interviewed the black inhabitants of the town, the other repeated the exercise with whites. What they uncovered was tattooed white supremacists dressed in suits and lies by day and Klan robes by night; a redneck coffee club who call themselves 'Bubbas in training'; black community leaders stating, "We can't tell what's in a white man's heart" and any number of concerned citizens expressing views that went out with slavery and lynching.

Whitney Dow directed numerous shorts before detouring into documentary in 1997. Other work includes On the Line and Woman to Woman, a 12-part series on breast cancer. Marco Williams is an award-winning documentary and feature director whose previous films include Without a Pass (1992) and In Search of Our Fathers.

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