Christine Turner interview: ‘Lynching Postcards’ director
“I was really drawn to this subject matter at this time because of our contemporary moment and because of the murders of people like George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery,” explains Christine Turner about her film “Lynching Postcards,” which is on the Oscars shortlist for Best Documentary Short. She talked with us as part of our short-film directors panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Lynching Postcards” explores an especially disturbing chapter of American history. During the Jim Crow era thousands of Black men and women were tortured and murdered by white mobs, especially in the South. Those white mobs were so proud of their deadly acts of terrorism that they would pose with the bodies of their victims for photos that were turned into postcards to be shared as one might share a vacation postcard. “Token of a great day,” reads one postcard that gives this film its subtitle.
That phenomenon echoes in the present, when the “modern day lynchings” of Floyd and Arbery were caught on video. “I really thought back to these postcards, which anti-lynching activists such as the NAACP and others had used as evidence in their fight against lynching and how they as activists took these postcards and subverted their original intent,” Turner says. That’s what happened with Floyd and Arbery, whose lynching videos helped bring their killers to justice.
“Lynching is a subject matter that I think to some degree all of us have learned a little bit about in history,” Turner adds. “But this particular angle, these postcards, are not something that I think a lot of people have been made aware of.” The imagery is deeply upsetting, and Turner “struggled with how much do we show and what do we show?” But telling this story is “necessary in order to help put an end to it anyway, to expose it and to make the public aware of it.”