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Prom Night in Mississippi (2010)

Morgan Freeman , Chasidy Buckley , Paul Saltzman  |  NR |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Morgan Freeman, Chasidy Buckley, Jessica Shivers, Bucky Smith
  • Directors: Paul Saltzman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: January 26, 2010
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002C68WNM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,908 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Prom Night in Mississippi" on IMDb

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Product Description

In 1970, the town of Charleston, Mississippi, allowed black students into their white high school, but refused to integrate the senior prom. Twenty-seven years later, Charleston resident and Academy Award®-winning actor Morgan Freeman offered to finance the prom - under the condition it be integrated. His offer was ignored. In 2008, Freeman made the offer again. This time the school board accepted, and history was made.

PROM NIGHT IN MISSISSIPPI traces the tumultuous events leading up to Charleston's first integrated prom through intimate conversations with students, families, faculty members and Freeman himself. As the film unfolds, we delve deeply into the heated race issues that tear apart this tiny community, and realize that this troubling segregation has less to do with the students than their parents. Ultimately, PROM NIGHT IN MISSISSIPPI captures a big moment in a small town, where hope finally blossoms in black, white and a whole lot of taffeta.

Special Features

  • Interview with the producer and director
  • Deleted and extended scenes

Back in 1954, the landmark Supreme Court decision known as Brown v. Board of Education struck down state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students. But towns like Charleston, Mississippi, the subject of Paul Saltzman's 2008 documentary Prom Night in Mississippi, were a bit slow on the uptake. It wasn't until 1970 that the high school was integrated; even then, nearly 40 more years passed before the senior prom was allowed to follow suit. In 1997 actor Morgan Freeman, a Charleston native, offered to pay for the prom if both black and white students were included, but his offer was rebuffed. Freeman, noting that "tradition is one thing, [but] idiocy is another," tried again in 2008, and this time it worked; the senior class voted unanimously for integration, and administrators and teachers were receptive as well. But as the school began its preparations for this historic event, it was soon apparent that it would not be easy. There was considerable resistance from some of the parents and other adults steeped in the area's legacy of racism; in fact, while the mixed prom would go on as planned, it was preceded by another, all-white event (it's telling that the organizers of the white prom refused to appear on camera for the documentary). But some of the other parents we see are deeply, honestly conflicted, including blue-collar "redneck" (his description) Glen Sumner, whose daughter is one of the very few students involved in an interracial relationship. The kids are for the most part great. In interview after interview, these wise, well-spoken young people express their respect for their parents while questioning their attitudes, ingenuously wondering why the world is so harsh. In the end, following weeks of choosing the right clothes, having their hair done, and so on, they come together to make the mixed prom a rousing success, creating an uplifting end to this well-made, compelling film. --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I had the good fortune of seeing writer/director Paul Saltzman's outstanding documentary 'Prom Night in Mississippi' at the 2009 Dallas AFI Film Festival. Saltzman gave an excellent Q&A after the film. It won the award for Best Documentary in Dallas and sold-out the theater. It doesn't appear that the film actually made it into commercial release (it's not listed in Box Office Mojo), which is a shame. You can make up for this injustice by renting or buying the DVD. It's well worth your time and money.

The story is instigated by Morgan Freeman's attempts to end the long-standing practice of separate proms (white, black) in his hometown of Charleston, Mississippi. However, Mr. Freeman plays a relatively minor role in Saltzman's film. Instead, the filmmaker turns his cameras on the students, educators, administrators and parents. It's fascinating to listen to the interviewees discuss the history of the town, its events and how things came to be.

What struck me most about Saltzman's movie is this: by training his camera on a few selected protagonists, he unveils insight and nuanced, complex thinking from unlikely quarters. That he gets it from some of the students is one thing. There are some smart, thoughtful kids at this school. But that it comes from a self-described 'redneck' kitted out in camouflage is something else entirely. I'm referring to parent Glen Sumner - his attempts to articulate parental attitudes and the reasons behind their baked-in biases is brilliant, emotional and brave. During the Q&A in Dallas, when one of the questioners asked Saltzman to carry word back to Mr. Sumner of her admiration of his courage, she got an ovation from the audience. It's the type of film that elicits that type of enthusiasm and emotion.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent film May 8, 2010
I came to this movie with great interest, having attending the first integrated prom in a small MS town in 1984. Freeman did some talking and interaction with students and school officials in the opening part of the movie, but it really documented the kids' attitudes, as well as some of the adults. The filmmakers tried to be as honest-candid as possible, and folks were quite open, the kids most of all, though given the intensely touchy nature of blatant racism, much was left unsaid, especially the more strident racist views - which continue to exist today. The movie walks you through Freeman making the proposition to the school council and then the senior class, all the way through to the prom - kids getting ready, lots of interviews with individuals and friends and couples - black and white, kids and adults. There were no shattering insights about why racism continues to exist, but what people did say was very meaningful to hear, touching on how it affects nearly every aspect of their daily lives. I was rapt throughout. And I'm certainly very grateful to Mr. Morgan for taking the steps that he did. With any luck - and hard work - this change in folks' attitudes will stick, and grow. A very good documentary about a serious and neglected subject.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Segregation dies a slow death February 22, 2010
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A must see film. Morgan Freeman did a great service to this community by being a catalyst for change. The students of this small Mississippi town made history by showing the courage to resist racism and stand up to the stale tradition of their parents. End the Cycle of hate. I show this film in my U.S. history class and students are amazed to see segregation being practiced today. A great learning experience. HBO films did a great job with this documentary as they always do with their films especially great thought provoking documentaries like this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let Our Youth Fly May 12, 2011
The main lessons from this inspiring film: 1) If it were up to the kids they would have abandoned the narrow cage of racism long ago. 2) Parents, don't keep our youth in a cage; open the doors and let them fly. So what if blacks and whites wish to marry each other. Their "mixed" offspring would face heavy challenges, true; they might end up in the White House. Morgan Freeman is a hero in inspiring a school to transform not only Charleston but other towns as well. Just imagine what more could be done if hundreds, thousands of other prominent people like him went throughout the country to do similar deeds of courage and transformation.
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The writer/director/producer of this historical yet fun documentary served the desegregation movement in the early Sixties after Chaney and the rest were killed brutally by the segregationist forces. After a long career in film, he returned to the same area to film the separate proms, white and black, and to catalyze a former offer by MOrgan Freeman to integrate the prom.

In order to maintain a separate white prom, the parents ran it privately, off school grounds, but in the state armory, which should be open to all.

THe most touching facet of this multi-facetted story may be the integrated couple and their attachment on to te other through it all, and their entrance at the prom, and the heart wrenching admissions of the father.

PLease see this important film which perhaps bears greatest meaning to those of us who lie this director though not so intimately lived through those hard times to find this resolution. Hopefully it lasts.

It is also interesting to see school practices, the discipline imposed, the separation and the crossings and the rejections of those who cross. THe cops and their selective treatment of the students, and so much more I am forgetting to ask you to watch for. What you really do not need to see is the extra material, the long interview with the co-producer, the deleted scenes (though some are indicative) It really might have needed a more skilled cutting editor to smooth out some messages.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars History Lesson
I used this informative and eye opening documentary as a life lesson for my Virginia Seniors (for 2010, 2011, 2012) as they prepared for prom. Read more
Published 9 months ago by shacy
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing has changed in the south.
I applaud Mr. Freeman's contribution to his home town.
Unfortunately the South and it;s racism will always rear
it' ugly head. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Uncle Buck
3.0 out of 5 stars Life back in 1954 era
A story narrated by Morgan Freeman who anticipated to change the outcome of early to present years SEGREGATION in the SOUTH when parents prohibited their offsprings (High School... Read more
Published 15 months ago by GRANNY 946
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent exemplar for teachers addressing contemporary race/ethnicity...
Excellent exemplar for teachers addressing contemporary race/ethnicity issues in the US. The ending sequence of the prom itself is overly long, but this movie is highly... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Sarah O.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
Great movie about diversity. I saw this movie in one of my college courses and it amazed me as to how prevalent racism is and it's 2012. Great to watch and a meaningful lesson.
Published on May 12, 2012 by AmbitiousK
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent movie that is only made better with Morgan Freeman!
This is an awesome documentary for everyone. A middle schooler and a septuagenarian would find it equally interesting. Read more
Published on February 19, 2012 by liz95s
5.0 out of 5 stars Integration
I grew up in Florida in a segregated school system in the 60's. We had riots when the first black person attended school. It is hard to believe that it could even be an issue. Read more
Published on November 7, 2011 by Michael L. Sweet
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Ready to be Inspired
Prom Night in Mississippi follows senior high school students as they embark on a historic journey - the first racially integrated prom in the school's history. Read more
Published on May 11, 2011 by B00k W0rm
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT
Published on January 6, 2011 by Anne Mahoney
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie is inspiring and tear inducing
I had lived in Mississippi, in a small town for 4 years. I had heard about the segregation when I was in school up in NJ and NY state. Read more
Published on November 2, 2010 by R. Montuoro
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