Review: ‘Always in Season’ documentary depicts unwanted legacy of ‘racial terrorism’

Claudia Lacy, mother of Lennon Lacy, in the documentary "Always in Season."
Claudia Lacy, mother of Lennon Lacy, in “Always in Season.”
(Multitude Films)

The questionable death of a North Carolina African American teenager is framed in the greater context of the America’s not-so-distant lynching past in Jacqueline Olive’s rightfully disturbing documentary “Always in Season.”

When the lifeless body of 17-year-old Lennon Lacy was found hanging from a swing set in a Bladenboro, N.C., trailer park, local investigators were quick to rule the cause of death to be suicide, but his family members had reason to believe something even more horrific had taken place.

As their efforts to find a semblance of justice and closure are charted, the film pulls back to examine the country’s shameful history of what the NAACP’s Sherrilyn Ifill describes as “a form of racial terrorism,” emerging at a time after the Civil War when newly emancipated slaves were making economic and political gains.

Over in Monroe, Ga., meanwhile, the film, which took home a special Sundance jury prize for “moral urgency,” profiles the relatives of victims and the adult child of a former KKK leader who take part in an annual graphic reenactment of a 1946 quadruple lynching, intended to keep their memories alive.


Although the director’s decision to hold off revealing a crucial bit of information regarding Lacy’s relationship with an older woman until much later in the proceedings feels over-calculated, the impact of hearing Danny Glover’s calm voice reading published invitations to lynching parties remains chillingly undiminished.

"Always in Season"

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Playing: Starts Sept. 27, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills