Filmmaker Caroline Rumley embarks on a calmly paced quest to discover more about her forebears. It begins with an encounter with a Black acquaintance, when she becomes aware of the inappropriateness of her dog’s name. Rumley’s young daughter liked the sound of the name Dixie but it’s also a nickname for the southern states of the U.S. and a clear reference to the time when these states formed a confederacy that seceded from the rest of the country in order to continue using slave labor.
The black-and-white archive photos and films of the family merge seamlessly with black-and-white shots of the landscapes of Mississippi and South Louisiana, evoking a family past that is tightly bound up with the tainted history of America’s southern states. While Rumley’s quest doesn’t exactly deliver the big names claimed within the family—Daniel Boone, a pioneering folk hero, and Civil War general Robert E. Lee—it provides many insights, as well as a route to reconciliation with a past she can’t be proud of but must accept as her own.