synopsis, this is not th south

indie film synopsis, this is not the south

Ryan is a young white man who lives in Bristol, Tennessee and is trying to create a film. He intends for his movie to be about General Morgan's Civil War raid and for it to be a true southern story. Ryan has a friend Julian, an African-American man who owns an art and antique gallery on Bristol's main commercial avenue called State Street. Ryan tries to enlist Julian's help in making his movie, and Julian needs Ryan's help through the use of Ryan's borrowed truck to pick up a large painting for Julian's shop. Ryan and Julian eventually encounter Dale, a young, white woman who has just returned to her Bristol hometown after living in the north, and who hopes to find work as a mechanic. Ryan and Dale remember each other from high school, and Ryan and Julian try to help Dale, who is having a difficult and frustrating time unsuccessfully looking for work.

Julian can tell that Dale is uncomfortable around him, and suspects that it is because he's black. When he confronts her, she admits that she's not uncomfortable because of his race, but rather because he's "swishy," revealing that she believes he's gay. Despite this misdirected prejudice Julian continues to try to help Dale. Meanwhile, Ryan videotapes his grandfather telling a family story about the Civil War, but the young aspiring filmmaker finds that he increasingly records Dale and Julian instead of the story he had originally intended to film. The three eventually retrieve what Dale thinks is going to be a painting of the Civil War General Robert E. Lee, but what turns out instead to be a painting of the now decrepit Robert E. Lee motel on Lee Highway in Bristol. Afterward, Julian and Ryan take Dale to see her father outside of town, but Dale's "old-fashioned" father is upset to see his daughter is accompanied by a black man.

Her father's racist behavior embarrasses Dale, and prompts discussions among the friends about racism in general, and about the confederate flag that Dale's father had displayed on his home. While Ryan recognizes that the flag isn't a racist symbol to all who display it, Julian states his opinion that African-Americans should begin using the flag en masse, claiming it for their own and therefore negating the racist implications for those who display it as a symbol of hostility.

Ryan finally gives in to the fact that his film is morphing into a different form than he originally envisioned. He recognizes that compelling stories about the south can indeed be different from the ones that seem most immediately obvious.