Naturally, being a film "critic" in Wilmington, the director of Wilmington on Fire emailed me a screener of this documentary asking me to review it for him. I said yes, despite the fact that I'm not normally intrigued by non-fiction, because I live in the city this film is about and thought it would be cool to learn about this city's history.
I didn't grow up in Wilmington; I moved here in August 2016 and I'm only here until July 2018 while I work on my Master's degree. I say this to let you know that I don't have roots here. I'm not a "Wilmingtonian" and I don't feel much of an attachment to this city. I think that worked against me in this case.
Wilmington on Fire is very well-made, well-researched, and tells a pretty interesting story of Wilmington, NC that I didn't know about. It also sort of requires you to already know some history of the city and various locations that I'm just completely unfamiliar with. This sort of felt like jumping into a 300-level college course without taking the 100- and 200-level prerequisites.
Now, what I did learn was fascinating. I had no idea there was a successful coup right here in this city - the only successful coup in the USA's history according to the film. What the old (not current) Democratic Party did to African-Americans in this city in the late 1800's was brutal. Racism in the South was, and is still, no joke. It's still alive and well here in Wilmington, NC in 2017 and I witness it far too often. This documentary is definitely one that provides a call to action.
Again, I feel no attachment to the city of Wilmington. I'm not a native. I'm not a long-term resident. I'm just here for graduate school. Though there is a lot for everyone to learn in Wilmington on Fire, and I will recommend it because of that, this film is going to be far more interesting to those who have a deep knowledge of and relationship with this city.