Prom Night in Mississippi

2009

Prom Night in Mississippi (2009)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

While the United States Supreme Court declared that segregated schools were unconstitutional in 1954, change came slowly to Charleston, Mississippi. Once a haven for the Ku Klux Klan, Charleston maintained segregated public schools until well into the 1970's, and even then one major event in the school year was still divided along racial lines. Charleston's high school had separate Senior Proms for white and African-American students, and the annual events made news in 1997 when actor Morgan Freeman, a Charleston native, spoke out against the "separate but equal" proms and made the school board an offer -- if they held an integrated prom, he would pay for it. Morgan's offer was refused at the time, but in 2008, Charleston announced that black and white students would attend the same prom for the first time. Canadian filmmaker Paul Saltzman offers a look at the long and rocky road to this step towards racial equality in the documentary Prom Night In Mississippi, which features interviews with a number of students (some of whom speak out against racism while being photographed in shadow, fearing repercussions from their community and their parents), faculty members and parents on both sides of the issue, as well as Morgan Freeman. (A group of white parents in Charleston staged a private "whites only" prom, but Saltzman and his crew were denied permission to film it.) Prom Night In Mississippi received its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

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Critic Reviews for Prom Night in Mississippi

All Critics (3) | Top Critics (1)

Mainly the film is obliged to circle around the absent centre of the conflict, the dark heart of the very issue under scrutiny. Consequently, like a skinny boy in an oversized tux, it has to pad.

Nov 13, 2009 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Inspiring docu tackles a tough topic: racism.

Dec 19, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Despite the subject matter, Prom Night In Mississippi is surprisingly buoyant with the hope and joy of these kids.

Nov 13, 2009 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for Prom Night in Mississippi

Holy shit. I really expected this movie to be a disappointment of something with a lot of potential but it was amazing. Easy to watch documentary that is both baffling and hopeful. The kids are all very interesting and well spoken and give you a lot of insight into what is going on.

Sunil Jawahir
Sunil Jawahir

Super Reviewer

½

A very inspirational film about two opposite races in a controversy over the white only prom and the black only prom. It's very sad to see these things still going on nowadays, because I thought this was far over and done by now, but I was very wrong. Prom Night In Mississippi is a beautiful documentary showing off the world/culture and how they are still able to interact with one another without be scared of the opposite race! Wonderful film!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

½

A wonderful film detailing the little known practices of a Mississippi town that has traditionally held black and white proms financed by local parents. Morgan Freeman, a citizen of the town, agrees to pay for a mixed prom to end the backward practice. What becomes quite clear is that students attending the prom are far more intelligent than their parents. Paul Saltzman however wastes too much time in his film showing us far too much of the prom itself. That wasn't the most interesting part of the saga Paul.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

½

This was the final film I saw at the Cleveland International Film Fest. It's a good documentary. It doesn't have the best video quality throughout, since it is a lot of home video diary footage from the high school students involved, but because of the subject, the message of the movie, I thought it was excellent. This was filmed in 2008 and is about the Charleston Mississippi high school senior prom of that year. Up until 2007, 2007!, 2007?!, this town was still having segregated proms for the black and white students. Their school is integrated, the students have classes with each other all during the day, the majority of the students are black, and yet the school board and parents continued the outdated tradition of separate dances. Morgan Freeman offers to pay for the prom if the school will plan one integrated event. He had offered the same thing a few years back and the idea was refused. But this year the senior class and the principal are in favor of an integrated prom. The movie is about the senior students, black and white, who take a stand in being on the prom planning committee. They share what they've experienced as far as school administration struggles with racism and parents' attitudes and general town atmosphere dealing with racism. Some parents of white students still plan their own party and don't allow black students or the film crew to attend. Some white students still do not attend the integrated prom, but many do and it is a successful fun event for the students to be proud of. The personalities of several students stood out as they let the cameras in their lives that year.

Byron Brubaker
Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

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