LaLees Kin: The Legacy of Cotton
Inspirational school superintendent Reggie Barnes lays out the facts: "We get kids in kindergarten who don't know their names. We get kids in kindergarten who don't know colors. We get kids in kindergarten that have never been read to." This is not surprising, we learn, as most of the parents can't read either. Barnes fights to break a catch-22; industry won't come to Tallahatchie County because of the poor school system, and it is that very lack of industry that perpetuates the poverty. The brilliance of this film is its poignant portrait of the Wallace clan as they barely eke out an existence under family matriarch Lalee, a formidable woman who's drive for survival is evident whether she's hauling water from the spigot at the local jail or putting food on the table for a trailer full of "grands" and "great-grands".
Produced by: Sheila Nevins, Susan Froemke, Douglas Graves
Directed by: Albert Maysles, Deborah Dickson, Susan Froemke
Running time: 1hr 30min
Opens: Jan 19, 2001 Sundance '01
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