×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lost in Mississippi

Stream-of-consciousness docu about life on the fringes in Mississippi is always fascinating, but has many things on its plate other than its purported subject, a recent series of ill-explained suicides in state prisons. Public for this oddity would appear to be very limited.

Stream-of-consciousness docu about life on the fringes in Mississippi is always fascinating, but has many things on its plate other than its purported subject, a recent series of ill-explained suicides in state prisons. Public for this oddity would appear to be very limited.

Filmmaker Jim Chambers drives around the state talking to people and getting their stories. Early on, it’s cultural anthropology as we meet a cherubic 11 -year-old boy who claims he is a satanist and an elderly black man who describes the secret to a successful marriage.

Then Chambers shifts gears to focus on the case of Cedric Walker, a 21 -year-old black inmate at Parchman State Penitentiary who was six months away from parole when he was found hanged in his cell. Death was ruled a suicide, a verdict viewed with suspicion by Walker’s family. The skepticism is compounded by Andrea Gibbs, a teenage runaway-turned-cop-turned-whistle-blower who lost her police job when she revealed how some prisoners in a Mississippi jail had been beaten.

Chambers allows the film to meander. A visit to Parchman leads to interviews with various wardens and sheriffs as well as a debate on penology (rehabilitation vs. punishment) and a discussion about why poor young men might prefer selling drugs to flipping hamburgers. Other sections have nothing to do with Gibbs or the subject of jail-house suicides.

After a chat with an ex-con named Billy Dotson, one of whose pit bulls attacks a member of the film crew, Chambers is on the road again, this time to Camp Sister Spirit, a lesbian retreat that has been subject to repeated attack. In perhaps the film’s funniest moment, a “family values” critic of the camp asked to define the word “liberal” simply replies, “George Bush.” This is truly a different world.

More than a hard-hitting expose on prison suicides, “Lost in Mississippi” is a portrait of a state from the viewpoint of those on the peripheries of the dominant culture. Tech credits are fine, with mix of film clips, B&W footage and animation highlighting the stream-of-consciousness nature of the enterprise.

Lost in Mississippi

Production: A Field Hands Prods. LP presentation. Produced by Jim Chambers, Hal Hisey. Directed by Jim Chambers. Screenplay, Chambers, Nancy Baker.

Crew: Camera (color), Douglas Cooper, Tom Sigel; editors, Baker, Paula Heredia; music, Daniel Lanois; sound (UltraStereo), Alan Barker, Giovanni Disimone, Petur Hliddal, Dave McJunken, Roger Phenix, Pam Yates. Reviewed at Sony Theatres Copley Place, Boston, Sept. 18, 1996. (In Boston Film Festival.) Running time: 90 MIN.

More Film

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

  • Olmo Teodoro Cuaron, Alfonso Cuaron and

    Alfonso Cuarón Tells Why His Scoreless 'Roma' Prompted an 'Inspired' Companion Album

    Back around the ‘90s, “music inspired by the film” albums got a bad name, as buyers tired of collections full of random recordings that clearly were inspired by nothing but the desire to use movie branding to launch a hit song. But Alfonso Cuarón, the director of “Roma,” is determined to find some artistic validity [...]

  • Berlin Film Festival 2019 Award Winners

    Berlin Film Festival 2019: Nadav Lapid's 'Synonyms' Wins Golden Bear

    Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s “Synonyms,” about a young Israeli man in Paris who has turned his back on his native country, won the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale on Saturday. The Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize went to François Ozon’s French drama “By the Grace of God,” a fact-based account of the Catholic Church [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel,' 'Lego Movie 2' to Lead President's Day Weekend

    “Alita: Battle Angel” is holding a slim lead ahead of “Lego Movie 2’s” second frame with an estimated four-day take of $29.1 million from 3,790 North American locations. “Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” meanwhile, is heading for about $25 million for a domestic tally of around $66 million. The two films lead the pack [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content