- Rated: TV-PG
- Run Time: 1 hours, 29 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: February 15, 2012
- Originally Released: 2001
- Label: Warner Archives
- Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Description by OLDIES.com:
From the acclaimed Maysles Films production team, this Oscar-nominated, Sundance Award-winning documentary follows three generations of African - Americans from Mississippi as they battle extreme poverty and illiteracy. Living in a trailer without running water or lights, matriarch LaLee Wallace watches her grandchildren struggle in school, paralleling the efforts of the West Tallahatchie School System to raise standards, attract qualified teachers and find supplies, or risk takeover by the state. These intertwined stories are a sober exploration of the painful legacy of slavery and sharecropping in America's Mississippi Delta. For as long as she can remember, LaLee Wallace's family has picked cotton. It has been their way of life for generations - and it's the main reason why they continue to live in poverty. Today, a movement is afoot to educate children in the Mississippi Delta, with hopes of attracting new industry and creating good jobs. But as LaLee and her family know, the legacy of cotton isn't an easy one to shake.
The cotton-growing industry has long had a tight hold on the political and economic lives of many people in the Mississippi Delta, and this documentary -- directed in part by Albert Maysles -- explores the toll King Cotton has taken on one woman and her family. Laura Lee Wallace, known to friends and family as LaLee, has spent all her life in Mississippi's Tallahatchie County. The product of a long line of cotton farmers, LaLee has grown up in dire poverty, and her children and grandchildren are poor prospects for a better life, given the region's failing school systems. At the urging of the major cotton firms, Tallahatchie County's schools used to routinely shut down during the harvest season so children could join their parents in the fields, and conditions have gotten only marginally better, with the county's ill-funded school system facing a possible takeover by the state government unless scores improve on the next round of standardized aptitude tests. With both money and job opportunities scarce, LaLee faces an uphill struggle to support her extended family, which now includes several grandchildren left to her care by sons and daughters unable to care for their offspring themselves. LELEE'S KIN: THE LEGACY OF COTTON was produced for the premium cable television network HBO; prior to it's HBO debut, the film was presented at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.