Flag Wars

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Flag Wars
Directed byLinda Goode Bryant
Laura Poitras
Produced byLinda Goode Bryant
Laura Poitras
Music byGraham Haynes
CinematographyLaura Poitras
Edited byLinda Goode Bryant
Erez Laufer
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States

Flag Wars is a 2003 American documentary film about the conflict between two communities during the gentrification of a Columbus, Ohio neighborhood. Filmed in a cinéma vérité style, the film is an account of the tension between the two historically oppressed communities of African-Americans and gays in Columbus' Olde Towne East neighborhood.[1] The film was nominated for an Emmy Award and won three awards, including a Peabody Award.[2]


Flag Wars is a look inside the conflicts that surface when black working-class families are faced with an influx of white gay homebuyers to their Columbus, Ohio neighborhood. Filmed over four years, Flag Wars’ “as-it-is-happening” cinéma vérité style captures the emotions and honesty of unguarded moments as tensions mount between neighbors.

The story begins with Nina, a lesbian real estate agent who lives and works in the neighborhood and is at the center of the changes taking place. The changes include having areas of the neighborhood designated a Historic District (creating restrictive housing codes), an increase in code enforcement complaints, and efforts to reduce low-income housing in the community. Code enforcement is complaint driven and neighborhood resident Linda Mitchell believes the new residents moving in on her block are responsible for the code and zoning citations that have landed her in Judge Pfeiffer's Environmental Court. Linda suffers from cirrhosis of the liver and lives on disability insurance. She does not address the housing and zoning violations and her limited resources prevent her from making repairs to her home. This puts her in jeopardy of arrest, until residents assist in remedying with code violations. Baba, a Yoruba priest and plumber, is the founder of the community gallery in the neighborhood, which occupies the bottom two floors of his three-story house. The name and address sign that he hangs above his porch is now in violation of Historic Code because it is carved in an African-relief style. Baba is also prosecuted in court before Judge Pfeiffer and faces fines and possible arrest for refusing to remove his sign, but the case is dismissed. Jim, a working-class gay man, works two jobs to buy a boarded up Victorian house in Olde Towne East. He risks his financial future when he purchases and begins renovations on the house using credit cards.


Flag Wars and filmmakers Linda Goode Bryant and Laura Poitras won the 2003 CDS Filmmaker Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the 2003 SXSW Competition Award at the SXSW Film Festival, and a 2003 Peabody Award.[3] It was also nominated for the 2004 Truer than Fiction Award at the Independent Spirit Awards and a 2004 Emmy Award.


  1. ^ Michelle. A. Gibson; Jonathan Alexander; Deborah T. Meem (2013). Finding Out: An Introduction to LGBT Studies. SAGE. p. 352. ISBN 1452235287.
  2. ^ "Laura Poitras". Documentary. 26: 36. 2007. Laura Poitras received a Peabody Award for her last documentary, Flag Wars (2003), which she co-directed, produced and photographed.
  3. ^ 63rd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2004.

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