LONDON (Reuters) - The saga of two families pitted against a barbaric social hierarchy in the Mississippi Delta after World War Two explores a racial divide that is relevant even today, the filmmaker of new movie "Mudbound" said.

"I feel like 'Mudbound' kind of comments on who we are now," director and co-writer Dee Rees told Reuters at the "Mudbound" premiere in London on Thursday.

"It's about family, it's about what it means to not be able to come home, it's about citizenship, who's an American, who's not and so like those things would be, like timeless," she added.

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"Mudbound," based on Hillary Jordan's novel of the same name, stars Jason Mitchell, Garrett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan and Jason Clarke and follows the struggles of two farming families - one black, one white - in the heart of the American South in the 1940s.

"Mudbound," which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival for independent movies, is already garnering strong reviews and Oscar buzz, and will debut on Netflix on Nov. 17.

The film explores the friendship of two men, one from each family, as they return from war and find common ground while their families face an unending struggle for and against the unforgiving land.

"What this film does so cleverly is it creates empathy," Mulligan said.

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"It gets you in the mind of all the different characters. It makes you look at so many people's different perspectives and it asks you to ask the right questions, but it's not prescriptive. It's not telling you what to think."

(Reporting by Lisa Keddie for Reuters TV; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Lisa Shumaker)