Take It Down

Sabine Gruffat

2019 | 00:12:37 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | Film

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Activism, History, Politics, Race, Sculpture


A last stand for the silent guardians of the old order. Take It Down is a filmic day of reckoning for the Old Confederate South. What is up must come down, like the Confederate soldier monuments standing in court house squares across the South. At long last, a grand inversion! Solarized film makes positives bleed into negatives. The South is renewed.

This film looks to North Carolina to describe the cultural fissure that runs through the South, a legacy of the Civil War. In the context of the divisive Trump presidency and the increasing visibility of white supremacist activism, these Confederate memorials have become sites of conflicting politics and historical narratives. 

Historians agree that a majority of Confederate statues were erected as propaganda tools legitimizing racism in the era of Jim Crow laws. For example, “Silent Sam”, a statue depicted in the film, was erected on the quad of the University of North Carolina campus. In an act of civil disobedience in Fall 2018, students and protestors tore down the statue in a statement against white supremacist oppression.


North Carolina was the last state to join the Confederate cause during the Civil War, yet it is still populated by more than 200 Confederate monuments. Most of these monuments were erected at the end of the Reconstruction Era by the United Daughters of the Confederacy as part of an ideological movement called the Lost Cause. The Lost Cause argues incorrectly that slavery was not the main cause of the Civil War. In an attempt to rewrite the narrative of a tragic defeat, the Lost Cause narrative espouses the virtues of chivalry and honor, while downplaying the violence of slavery. It is also a justification for the Jim Crow laws enforcing racial segregation, and suppressing the civil rights of Black Americans in the Southern states. Although prominent historians have decried the Lost Cause narrative as propaganda, many North Carolinians continue to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day every year. 

In 2015, Governor Nikki Haley took down the Confederate flag from the state capitol in South Carolina as a response to the Charleston church shooting. In retaliation, certain Southern states such as North Carolina passed bills to prevent Confederate memorials from being  “relocated, removed, concealed, obscured, or altered in any fashion.” 

After the 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump, white supremacists united around a Confederate monument in Charlottesville, Virginia in a violent show of strength. in the aftermath, there have been renewed calls across the American South to take down these Confederate monuments. 

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Prizes + Awards

Scott Nygren Memorial Award (FLEX)

Exhibitions + Festivals

Ann Arbor Film Festival

Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival