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LGM Film Club, Part 335: The American Sector

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Last night, I watched the 2021 film The American Sector. Directed by Courtney Stephens and Pacho Velez, it looks at all the random places in the United States where pieces of the Berlin Wall are displayed. Turns out I’d seen at least five of the ones profiled in the film. They are in places that make sense, such as presidential libraries, and places that are completely ridiculous, like in the median of I-85 near Spartanburg, South Carolina or the part in front of the Society for Creative Anachronism offices in Philadelphia. A few are privately owned. Mostly these displays are just nonsense that makes no sense. But what this film really does well is get at the weirdness of American and in the incongruity of our historical memory. The single most powerful moment in the film is the large section of the wall on the University of Virginia campus. The two students the filmmakers interview about it wonder why this is so much more highly profiled than the extremely limited admittance by the administration that the university was built with slave labor. And then they go to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, where one of the people there talks about how their piece of the wall reminds them that their oppression is not the only one in history.

So yeah, this is well worth your hour and ten minutes of time.

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