According to Kevin Willmott's satirical fake documentary C.S.A. America would be a different place had the Southern States won the Civil War. But not that different, a point the writer/director hammers home repeatedly over the course of this entertaining, if only moderately persuasive, feature. Purporting to be an exposť from the 'British Broadcasting Service', the film records the institutionalised racism of this make-believe superpower, pausing intermittently to advertise such hilariously un-PC products as Sambo lubricator and Jigaboo toothpaste.
In Willmott's alternative history, Abraham Lincoln was not the great liberator but a snivelling coward whose flight to Canada - in blackface no less - was recreated in a DW Griffiths silent entitled The Hunt For Dishonest Abe. ("I ain't no prez'dent!" he whimpers as he is apprehended. "I'z a darky!") Forging alliances with Hitler's Germany and South Africa, this version of America annexes Mexico, attacks Japan first and sets up a 'Cotton Curtain' to stop slaves sneaking across the border. The 'Not One Drop' policy, meanwhile, maintains a strict division between white "massas" and their subservient "chattel".
Producer Spike Lee tackled similar territory in his 2000 satire Bamboozled, and the same heavy-handedness dominates here - at the expense, one suspects, of a more reasoned and thoughtful debate on slavery's bitter legacy. Where the film does score a bullseye is in a postscript detailing how much of its comic detail derives from actual fact - a chilling reminder of how far the US still has to go if it is ever to make amends for its brutal past.