For her directorial debut, documentarian Jacqueline Olive intertwines the story of the hanging death of a black teenager in North Carolina with two unrelated incidents of lynchings in the south. While she skillfully calls attention to America’s racist past and the racial tensions that are brewing today, Always in Season makes no connection between the three stories that are told throughout. At the centre of the film is 17-year-old Lennon Lacy. The teenager’s death rocked Bladenboro, North Carolina in 2014 when he was found hanging from a swing set. His death was ruled a suicide, but interviews with Lacy’s family and friends paint a picture of a promising high school football star who showed no signs of distress.
In an attempt to find closure, those closest to Lacy are on a quest to expose how shoddy the police investigation into his death was. Members of the community – who mostly happen to be white – offer the opposite perspective in their interviews. In his interview, the editor of the local newspaper expressed his support of the investigation’s findings and urged the family to wrap up their crusade for justice.
Switching gears, Olive explores the stories of the 1934 lynching of Claude Neal in Florida and the 1946 lynching of two young black couples in Georgia. Of the two, the latter is recreated yearly in Monroe, Georgia and the production process and performance are both documented in the film.
When racial tensions are at an all-time high in America, and people of colour have little faith in law enforcement, it’s easy to see what Olive was trying to illustrate through Always in Season. The problem, however, is that she’s telling three stand-alone stories instead of one cohesive narrative. Olive would have made better use of her time by focusing on Lacy’s story. Between the family’s suspicions, the holes in the investigation, a community on opposing sides, and the tragedy of a life lost, she had plenty of material to make a compelling documentary. Instead, Always in Season winds up being nothing more than a disjointed package of unfortunate events.
Tuesday, Apr 30, 12:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Saturday, May 4, 6:30 PM, Hart House Theatre