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“No one would go to Auschwitz to get married.”

—Black professor commenting on the popularity of weddings held on former slave plantations in “Civil War (or Who DO We Think We Are).”

Psychologists refer to “denial” as an individual person’s decision to avoid an unpalatable “truth,” about which documented, substantiated verification is present. As every one individual subject is guilty of this condition at one point or another, occasionally groups of individuals are guilty of this malady as well, in an effort to form self-defense mechanisms, or self-interest, which brings us to Holocaust denial. In this scenario, proponents may not outright embrace the falsehood of this historic event, choosing instead to minimize key components or downplay the damage in its wake.

In the United States, a similar (but by no means as prevalent) school of thinking involves slavery denial. Those who embrace this theory hold that slavery was by no means as brutal as history makes it out to be. These folks try to dismiss the long-term effects of psychological and physical abuse by embracing the “happy slave” myth, who were cared for by paternalistic owners (abetted by Dr. Ben Carson and Kanye West). Other sociologists hold that focusing on past indignities formulates an emotional “crutch,” which perpetuates a welfare mentality and continued dependence on social assistance.

Seasoned documentary director Rachel Boynton has tackled these themes by taking her camera into parts of America with direct ties to both sides of the Civil War legacy. In recording their opinions about this divisive era of our shared history, she attempts to reconcile the conflict, but she ultimately just reaffirms that this was a tussle both sides have never truly gotten over.

To be sure, the Union decisively won the war militarily, but the “Reconstruction Era” ended with the majority of the former Confederacy under white supremacist, Democratic party control. The guerrilla warfare that Abraham Lincoln so ardently attempted to avoid via compassionate overtures to the losers, manifested itself none-the-less in the rise of the Klu Klux Klan, a presence that endures to this day.

More significantly, in America’s push to build itself up militarily in anticipation of the World Wars that dominated the 20th Century (abetted by southern standard bearer Woodrow Wilson), approximately half of its new army installations were constructed within the province of the old confederacy, many of them named after generals of the lost cause. This helped to set up the current uproar over the dismantling of confederate monuments and the clamor about changing the names of these installations, led by Wilson’s spiritual descendant, Donald J. Trump.

It is, perhaps telling that the production of “Civil War” began during the wake of the presidency of Barack Obama, an administration that rekindled the smoldering embers of race and regional discord hiding in plain sight. This affirms a recurrent theme of American history: for every “progressive” step forward, divergent factors conspire to hinder advancement.

Recent history has seen the complication of these issues by celebrity missteps. Media personality and celebrity chef Paula Deen imploded her empire as she wishfully carped about a plantation-styled wedding (which never materialized) for her brother, complete with Black servants in slave attire. In 2005 Prince Harry took the heat for his juvenile choice of a Nazi-styled costume to wear at a dress party. Apparently, he redeemed himself just over a dozen years later, when he married a biracial American divorcee.

Boynton’s camera captures amusing snippets south of the Mason/Dixon Line, as descendants defend the causes their fore bearers fought for, pointing out that the Yankees actually invaded their homeland, or suggesting the primary motivation was state’s rights over a meddling federal government, with slavery just an afterthought.

For more information on future screenings go to https://m.facebook.com/CivilWarDocFilm.