Godfrey Cheshire's family history, and that of the South, takes center stage in this documentary about moving an ancestral plantation to a quieter location.
The film critic Godfrey Cheshire, making his moviemaking debut, certainly had a family history to draw on for this documentary. Because his family's centuries-old North Carolina plantation now sits across from a highway and a shopping mall, the decision is made to move it to a quieter locale. Nutty as it initially seems, there's something unreasonably just about this decision. In "Moving Midway," Cheshire chronicles not only the history of the move but also of the family members, past and present, who occupied the place, and, most pointedly, the slaves who worked its fields, some of whom turn out to be related. He brings in references to movies about the South, from "Birth of a Nation" to "Gone with the Wind," and demonstrates how popular mythology works its way into our private imaginations. Cheshire owes a debt to the films of the documentarian Ross McElwee, but his film, like his family, is his own. Grade: A- (Not rated.)