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The Independent Critic

Jimmie Kirkpatrick, De Kirkpatrick
Louise Woehrle
92 Mins.

 Movie Review: A Binding Truth 
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Jimmie Kirkpatrick and De Kirkpatrick were high school classmates in 1965. One of North Carolina's most recognized Black high school football players, Jimmie would transfer his senior year to an affluent high school in Charlotte from his all-Black high school. Easily one of North Carolina's best players, he was passed over for the Shrine Bowl All-Star Game for no reason other than the fact that no Black player had ever been picked. 

The case would put Jimmie upfront into one of North Carolina's most volatile civil rights case. It was a case that De would watch unfold, eventually writing about it in his college essay application. He was accepted into Harvard. 

When it was time for the annual Shrine Bowl All-Star Game, a huge North versus South Carolina rivalry match, Jimmy Lee was passed over despite being the top athlete. The reason was no black player had ever been picked for the Shrine Bowl. He would end up playing college ball at Purdue University. 

Decades later, a shocking discovery found buried deep in old church records would change both men's lives forever. They both bonded in high school over the fact that they shared a last name. The binding truth would go much deeper. 

To call A Binding Truth an engaging film seems almost inadequate. At times emotionally raw, A Binding Truth captures both the intimacy and universality of racism in a way that hits you like a gut-check. Directed by Louise Woehrle, A Binding Truth screened here in my hometown Heartland International Film Festival and has proven to have quite the successful festival run. It's clear that Woehrle understands the deeper significance of the film, this is America's story and a story of slavery's legacy, but also never lets us forget the people who are involved. 

A BindingTruth features archival interviews including both Jimmie and De's families. These conversations are powerful, radiating with truth and uncommon awareness and a willingness to be vulnerable, open, and uncomfortable. While there is a warmth and hopefulness present here, A Binding Truth is also a sober film grounded in reality and an acknowledgement that becoming aware alone simply isn't enough. De Kirkpatrick's explorations here are admirable and his willingness to own wrongdoings profound. Likewise, one is practically in awe of Jimmie and his resilience of body, mind, and spirit. 

While I missed A Binding Truth during its Heartland screenings, I'm so glad I've had the chance to catch up to it. If you get the chance, this indie doc is worth your time. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic