One of seven Vanguard Gems—unique and exciting don’t miss movies from some of the festival’s most innovative artists.
Holly Herrick, Sarasota Film Festival
“A visual feast, a prayer – it carried me on a journey into the heart of things and put me out on the other side. Reordering, reorienting.”
A Description of General Orders No. 9
Lush with the bucolic imagery and iconography uniquely representative of the American Deep South, General Orders No. 9 immediately transfixes with its churning visual carousel of rusted-out weathervanes, rotting remnants of oaken polebarns, wolf trees standing solemn and solitary in abandoned pastures, and stately brick courthouses hauntingly silent in disuse–stark remnants all of the collective trials and traumas that have coalesced to forge such a complex cultural and aesthetic legacy here in the cradle of the genteel South.
The debut work from Robert Persons, a Charleston, South Carolina magazine publisher turned director, the film churns and swells as a breathtakingly poetic meditation on the state of Georgia and its cultural, moral, and geographical birthright, rendered through rapt contemplation of obsolete territorial maps, architectural artifacts, lyrical narration, and exquisite landscape cinematography.
Accompanied by swirling stringed flourishes and the low rumble of ritualized chanting, the first words from our guide billow up like a rising storm and testify “from a wilderness to a state, from unknown lands to chartered streets, deer trail becomes Indian trail becomes county road.” From this, Persons’ incredibly self-assured first effort takes a commanding grip and keeps hold through an elegant dialectic where dusty county roads and serene backwaters collide with clattering freight trains and the transgressions of Atlanta’s ever-creeping urban sprawl, to nearly overwhelming effect. The stoic intrigue of Georgia’s dormant sharecropping wastelands and skeletons of plantations has never been so gorgeously depicted, and indeed imposes a powerful language entirely its own. Likewise Persons’ mesmerizing verbal accompaniment explores the darkest elements of the South’s intercultural DNA and how the fingerprints of both great wretchedness and great triumphs have slowly faded, brought about by a combination of graciousness, willful ignorance, and, increasingly and perhaps most alarming, through the sort of cultural amnesia that the paving over of industrialization naturally catalyzes.