'Welcome to Pine Lake' debuts TODAY at 12 p.m. on SHOxBET (VIDEO)
This intriguing narrative began as a study of a small, beautiful lake community where women hold all leadership positions and the bustling Black metropolis of Atlanta is only 12 miles away. Pine Lake’s mayor and city council are all female, while the police chief and sole municipal judge are also women and African American.
After following the mayor and documenting daily life in the town for 18 months, the filmmakers concluded there was an additional story even more significant than a unique female-led town, it seemed that institutional racism was so ingrained in the governing system of this seemingly idyllic community that the elected leaders were not even aware of it.
Juxtaposed against the unique, progressive female leadership, low crime, beautiful beach and dedication to nature and the environment, the Pine Lake courtroom showcased a layer of poverty, discrimination and entrenched racism. The film exposes that historically much of the city’s funding depended on traffic tickets and other fines levied against predominately Black residents in surrounding communities who regularly travel through the edge of the city. Does the elected leadership of the idyllic town recognize that their comfortable lifestyle comes at the cost to those living nearby?
The creators of “Welcome to Pine Lake” are Director Elisa Gambino and Cinematographer/Editor Neal Broffman of One Production Place. In the two years before Ahmaud Arbery of Brunswick, Georgia and George Floyd of Minneapolis were unjustly killed and racial inequities were propelled to the forefront, the husband-wife filmmaking team realized they had a deeper story.
Wendy Eley Jackson, executive producer of “Welcome to Pine Lake,” says the filmmakers raise important questions. “Yes, there are wonderful things going on in this liberal little town, especially compared to the history it represents,” says Jackson, daughter-in-law of the late Atlanta Mayor Maynard H. Jackson and his former wife Bunnie Jackson Ransom. “But it is okay to use policies that continue to oppress poor Black people to fund your budget? The women who now lead the city did not make the laws and policies, but do they not have the responsibility to change those laws that penalize Black people unfairly?"