‘Mudbound’ Director Dee Rees Asks What It Means to Be a Citizen (Video)

TIFF 2017: “Thematically I was interested in exploring themes about how you can never come home,” the director told TheWrap

Dee Rees’s film “Mudbound,” which is giving Netflix a strong push into this year’s Oscar race, follows two men who face racism and strained relationships with their families upon returning home to Mississippi after World War II.

Rees was drawn to the source material because of the dual perspective between black and white families and how this singular event bonds them.

“Thematically I was interested in exploring themes about how you can never come home, themes about what it means to be a citizen, and the underlying, simmering violence that’s always threatening to come in,” Rees told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman.

For star Carey Mulligan, she can’t recall from her time in school ever seeing black faces in her history lessons, and she was shocked to see how poorly they were treated following their service.

“To imagine these heroes coming home and being treated as less than in their own society was just so heartbreaking,” Mulligan told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman. “To think these incredibly brave men went and gave their lives and lost so much and returned to being treated in unspeakable ways, I couldn’t fathom.”

Actor Jason Mitchell jumped at the opportunity to work with Rees on this story because he could relate to the experience of his grandfather coming back from the Korean War.

“I’m from New Orleans. You go to the war, you come back, you marry a woman that’s “passe blanc,” which means “pass for white,” hopefully you can start a business and have a successful family. But he doesn’t have beyond a fifth grade education,” Mitchell said. “To watch what he’s been through, to where I am now is special. His oldest brother was a slave. It’s not even that far. He doesn’t even understand, like a movie star, what do you mean, he doesn’t even understand that. To think that we’ve come that far mentally and physically is great.”

“Mudbound” airs on Netflix November 17.