Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Filmed in Birmingham, Alabama by three-time NHFF filmmaker Whitney Hamilton, who also goes by the name Whit, Union tells the story of a woman who takes on the identity of her slain brother Henry during the American Civil War. When new Henry meets former Henry's widow Virginia (richly played by Alabama native Virginia Newcomb), sparks fly and expedience leads them into a most improper-at-the-time relationship. Hence the movie's title "Union" speaks more to the story than the title would suggest—the film is actually set on the Confederate side of the war.

Whitney Hamilton has freely played the roles of men throughout her career as a producer, director and actor, and this film is the pinnacle of her work to date. Union is cinematically vast, but also intimate, and the core theme of the story is a largely unexplored one for the period—gender identity, a subject that makes Hamilton highly relevant to the zeitgeist. But that is an incomplete description for her as a filmmaker, because many women did, in fact disguise themselves as men during the Civil War and Union is based on a true story. This film is not only hip to the times, but also respectful of history, and that balance of seeming opposites is an achievement.

Adding to the complexity, this is a Civil War film set in the South and produced by Bjornquest Films, which is based in Brooklyn. Like the battlefields it depicts, Union puts preconceived notions and casual opinions on perilous ground, as Hamilton-Newcomb reveal in two emotionally loaded performances. Anyone delving into the state of affairs today, and how we got here, will benefit from watching ambitious, finely wrought films like this one.

You can watch the trailer here: Union Trailer