monumental is an experimental documentary about toppled statues, Southern history, the legacy of names, the resilience of bricks, the power of poetry, the definition of patriotism, hidden family trees and segregated cemeteries. In this time, we know that there is no static history. It lives on, layered in the landscape, painted on the brick mills. In this time, as statues rise and fall, we are asking: where have we been, where are we now, and where are we going? Through investigating the ripples of the words and deeds of local postbellum industrialist Julian Shakespeare Carr, paradoxically called “the most generous white supremacist,” and reenacting scenes from the childhood of Pauli Murray, an unsung civil and women’s rights activist, the film scratches away at surfaces of stories about Durham, North Carolina. Careful scrutiny of such surfaces may reveal effaced answers to the questions that history leaves us with today, regarding racial identity and segregation, industrialization and labor, and gentrification and community. In this time of flattened stories and controversial monuments in stone, monumental is a multi-dimensional, layered retelling of the life of a Southern city.
Supported by a 2018 Princess Grace Award for Film. Completed as part of thesis for MFA in Experimental and Documentary Art from Duke University.
The above trailer features Kennedy Berryman reading an excerpt from “Dark Testament” by Pauli Murray and excerpts of interviews with Conrad Odell Pearson, Viola Turner and Pauli Murray, held in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The filmmaker would like to thank the people who consented to participate in “monumental” and the archival rights holders who consented to the representation of those who have passed away.