In 1998, Chantal Akerman planned to make a meditation on the American South, inspired by her love of James Baldwin and William Faulkner. Days before she was to begin filming, James Byrd, Jr. was brutally murdered in Jasper, Texas, by three white men who dragged him behind a truck through predominantly black rural areas. Akerman wrote, “How do the trees and the whole natural environment evoke so intensely death, blood, and the weight of history? How does the present call up the past?” Her film “conjures the ghosts of the hate crimes and lynchings that have plagued that part of the US for decades. [South] makes its sorrowful points succinctly” (Variety).