The true story of Ann Atwater and C.P. Ellis gets the big screen biopic treatment with The Best of Enemies. Atwater was a civil rights activist, and Ellis was an Exalted Cyclops of a Ku Klux Klan group, but the two were forced to work together to deal with the issue of school segregation in Durham. In the film, Taraji P. Henson plays Atwater, while Sam Rockwell is Ellis. Watch The Best of Enemies trailer below.
The Best of Enemies Trailer
This trailer is a bit clunky – the same audio of Rockwell saying “I’m the president of the Klan!” is used twice for some strange reason – but the story being hold here is powerful. Best of Enemies “centers on the unlikely relationship between Ann Atwater (Henson), an outspoken civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis (Rockwell), a local Ku Klux Klan leader who reluctantly co-chaired a community summit, battling over the desegregation of schools in Durham, North Carolina during the racially-charged summer of 1971. The incredible events that unfolded would change Durham and the lives of Atwater and Ellis forever.”
Henson (Hidden Figures) and Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri) are both excellent actors, and the prospect of the two of them working together could produce some wonderful results. The film is based on the book The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South by Osha Gray Davidson, the synopsis of which offers more insight into this true story:
C. P. Ellis grew up in the poor white section of Durham, North Carolina, and as a young man joined the Ku Klux Klan. Ann Atwater, a single mother from the poor black part of town, quit her job as a household domestic to join the civil rights fight. During the 1960s, as the country struggled with the explosive issue of race, Atwater and Ellis met on opposite sides of the public school integration issue. Their encounters were charged with hatred and suspicion. In an amazing set of transformations, however, each of them came to see how the other had been exploited by the South’s rigid power structure, and they forged a friendship that flourished against a backdrop of unrelenting bigotry
In addition to Henson and Rockwell, The Best of Enemies stars Anne Heche, Wes Bentley, Bruce McGill, John Gallagher Jr., and Nick Searcy, with Robin Bissell writing and directing the film.
Look for The Best of Enemies in theaters on April 5, 2019.
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