Winner 2009

Independent Lens: The Order of Myths

Folly River Inc., ITVS

In Mobile, Alabama, traditions run deep, and its annual celebration of Mardi Gras is among its oldest. The carnival that begins the Lenten season there actually predates the more famous party that takes place in New Orleans. In Mobile, the secret societies (one of them named The Order of Myths) that organize the parades and balls and elect kings and queens are woven into every element of the city. With interviews and video captured in all these events, this documentary explores race, gender, class, generation, style, neighborhood, menu and music selection to explain the range of values underlying the Mardi Gras revels. The most telling fact is that there are two royal courts, two major balls, two histories—one in the white community, the other in the African American. Both groups acknowledge that some features that divide them should be ended. And although the king and queen of each community do finally visit the other’s major events, there remains the strong sense that change here always has been difficult to come by—and very likely will continue to be so. A Peabody Award goes to Independent Lens: The Order of Myths for presenting such complex matters in a vastly entertaining and deeply affectionate account.


Executive Producers: Christine Mattsson, Shephen Bannatyne, Sally Jo Fifer. Producers: Margaret Brown, Sara Alize Cross. Associate Producers: Louis Black, Gabby Stein. Director: Margaret Brown. Cinematographer: Michael Simmonds. Editors: Michael Taylor, Geoffrey Richman, Margaret Brown.