Date: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 10:21:03 -0400

From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: FAMILY NAME (film review); Media-cracy

FAMILY NAME (film review)

A new documentary called FAMILY NAME opened at the Film Forum in New York

for a limited run. A review is perhaps more appropriate for the American

Name Society, but American Dialect Society members will find the film

interesting as well.

It got four stars in Wednesday's New York Post, and Godfrey Cheshire of

New York Press called it "The best American film of the year to date."

Better than SPAWN??

Macky Alston is the filmmaker, and the film is about how he traces his

roots. Unlike ROOTS, this is a low-budget documentary, but it also covers


Macky remembered that the black students in his grade school shared his

last name of Alston. The film starts with a white Alston family reunion and

a black Alston family reunion, both taking place in North Carolina. Alstons

were slave owners, and the slaves would also use the same Alston name. The

slave owners had children with the slaves, so Macky filmed this whole Alston

family stew.

If you miss it, it'll probably be on PBS soon.

Macky tried to provoke some of the Alstons with his questions about

slavery and race.

"There's a bearcat down the river," answered one Alston.

Macky asked what this meant. It means that there's trouble ahead.

Hendrickson's MOUNTAIN RANGE has something similar in "there's a squirrel in

the tree somewhere" (something's hidden) and "there's somethin' dead up the

branch" (something's strange; a branch is a stream of water).

"There's a bearcat down the line, down the river," the person repeated

later in the film.

Anyone familiar with this?