Emmy nominee ‘The Neutral Ground’ examines the United States' relationship to the Confederacy and race

CJ Hunt is the director and writer of "The Neutral Ground," a documentary examining the country's present-day relationship to the Confederacy and race. Courtesy of The Neutral Ground film

The Neutral Ground,” a 2021 documentary that examines the country’s relationship with the Confederacy and race through the removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans, taking an investigative approach to the optics of racial history in America.

On the Thursday edition of “Closer Look”, CJ Hunt, the film’s director and writer, discusses the making of the documentary and its commentary on race.

Since its release, the film has been banned from classrooms in at least 17 states while also picking up an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Historical Documentary as part of its presentation on “POV” on PBS.

“The Neutral Ground” includes interviews and news footage dating back to 2015, at times takes a personal approach through its inclusion of personal anecdotes from filmmaker CJ Hunt’s upbringing.

In its discussion of subjects such as the denial of slavery’s involvement in the Civil War, the documentary highlights the sanitation of history and the danger of its translation into classrooms.

“Sometimes a lie can be hardened into a statue, and sometimes a lie can be hardened into a law. Sometimes it can be repeated in a textbook — that this war wasn’t about slavery and slavery wasn’t that bad,” Hunt said. “I think that hits students developmentally in a right place where they [realize], ‘We can dig up the truth about the past. Democracy requires us to go back and dig up some stuff a politician is hoping we forgot.’”