In December 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate monuments from public grounds. A forceful group of critics protested the decision, and fearing retaliation, no work crew would agree to remove the statues. For comedian and Daily Show with Trevor Noah producer and writer CJ Hunt, these protestors’ fanatical loyalty to the losing side of a 160 year-old war seemed like ideal material for a short, satirical internet video. But as he filmed the conflict surrounding the monuments, a bigger story began to reveal itself. THE NEUTRAL GROUND confronts the Lost Cause—the Southern campaign that mythified the Confederacy—with refreshing clarity.With New Orleans as the main backdrop of the story, the film expands its scope to the country at large, bringing to light the fabricated histories born out of the Civil War and the hard truths much of America has yet to face about slavery. Throughout, Hunt’s radical openness leads to staggering, often personal conversations with advocates and opponents of Confederate monuments alike. Turning a sharp eye to the tangled thread between past and present, THE NEUTRAL GROUND targets necessary change centuries in the making that might—finally—be catching up to itself. Director / screenwriter and subject joins us for a candid conversation on America’s implacable racism, latent white violence towards historic truths about slavery, the urgent need to respond to blatant hatred, and The Neutral Ground’s premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
Premiering on Monday July 5 on PBS’ award-winning documentary program POV, The Neutral Ground documents New Orleans’ fight over monuments and America’s troubled romance with the Lost Cause. CJ sets out to understand why a losing army from 1865 still holds so much power in America
About the filmmaker – A comedian and filmmaker living in NYC, CJ is currently a field producer on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has also served as a staff writer for A&E’s Black and White, and afield producer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede. Before working in late night, CJ spent nine years living in New Orleans where – in 2015 – he began filming what he thought would be a quick and easy confederate monument removal. CJ is an alumnus of Firelight Media’s Doc Lab and New Orleans Film Festival’s Emerging Voices program. He is also a 2020 New America Fellow and a regular host of The Moth. A graduate from Brown University’s Africana Studies department, CJ is endlessly fascinated by race and comedy’s ability to say what we can’t.