On Oct. 11, STX Films released the first look at the newest historical film to tackle the history of racism in America. The Best Of Enemies trailer teases an epic clash between Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell over school segregation, and it looks like it's going to full of performances fans won't want to miss. The forthcoming film follows the true story of civil rights activist Ann Atwater and former Ku Klux Klan leader C.P. Ellis. They began as enemies, and slowly became friends amidst a fight over segregation in Durham, N.C., during the early '70s, as noted by The Hollywood Reporter. While shedding light on the awful subjects of bigotry and the unjust treatment of Black people, the narrative's silver-lining comes along as the two find common ground realizing that as humans they are one in the same.
A snippet from the film, which is inspired by Osha Gray Davidson’s 1996 book, The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South, showcases Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson in the role of Atwater, while Oscar winner Sam Rockwell steps into the portrayal of Ellis. As the trailer shows, after a fire destroys the elementary school that her daughter attends, Atwater pushes to find a solution for her child's education. With nowhere to educate the displaced students, the topic of integration is introduced. However, Ellis, like many other parents in the community is reluctant to allow African-Americans to attend school with his children.
The trailer offers a glimpse at their first meeting, in which Atwater and Ellis go head-to-head in a heated battle, only to find themselves on the road to an unlikely friendship while co-chairing a local committee which was implemented to oversee the issue of school segregation in 1971. Though history buffs will recognize that Atwater and Ellis eventually fought together for their local community, the trailer doesn't shy away from showing their early disagreements. In one particularly harrowing scene, Atwater is stunned at the presence of a Klan uniform displayed in a school hallway as Ellis watches her reaction in the distance. Ellis later tells his wife, played by Anne Heche, "She looked at me like I'm some kind of monster." To which she quickly replies, "Well what did you expect?"
In real life, as reported by North Carolina's The News & Observer, through working with Atwater, Ellis, a leader of the local KKK, ultimately found that they actually shared more commonalities than differences, and the two quickly began to get to know each other as individuals instead of judging by stereotypes. As a pair, according to the Durham County Library, Atwater and Ellis come to the realization that poor people, regardless of color, are being oppressed, and learned that their children faced many of the same obstacles. They ultimately join forces in an effort to create change. However, despite Ellis' change of heart, many in the community were angered by the idea of integration, causing a major clash amongst opposing sides.
Although The Best of Enemies is retelling of a true story from decades ago, the current political climate makes its narrative more important than ever. And perhaps this movie will give history lovers and movie lovers something to enjoy and learn from together.