We previously documented long-time Spike Lee editor (as well as director and producer in his own right) Sam Pollard’s struggles in getting his feature documentary for PBS, titled Slavery by Another Name, made.
To recap… the film is based on the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Wall Street Journal writer Douglas Blackmon, which “challenges the belief that slavery ended with 1863’s Emancipation Proclamation… [recounting] how in the years following the Civil War, new forms of forced labor emerged in the American South, trapping hundreds of thousands of African Americans in a brutal system that lasted until the onset of World War II.”
Pollard’s difficulties in shooting parts of the film, came specifically in Centreville, Alabama, where the town’s mayor and city attorney were intent on blocking his attempts to shoot and recreate scenes in their locale, because, “We are a quiet, small town, and I don’t want this to cause controversy,” according to the mayor.
Pollard and his crew had already filmed in various locations in and around Centreville, but what the mayor and attorney most objected to was a reenactment scene in the town’s park, that will “depict… actors as being slaves who were tied to a stake driven into the ground. He wanted to do that in a public park on a weekend when other people were using the park for recreational purposes. We didn’t think that that was appropriate, and we felt like that would cause controversy. So, yes, the mayor had a problem with that,” said the city attorney.
After a few formal exchanges, Pollard decided to reenact the scene in another location.
“This is the first time in the 10 years since I started researching and writing the book that the door was so overtly slammed in my face,” journalist/author Blackmon said.
No matter… the film got made, so applause to that!
Slavery by Another Name, which includes reenactment scenes, will be narrated by Laurence Fishburne, as we previously noted in a past post, and will will debut Feb. 13, 2012 as part of PBS’ Black History Month programming.
No trailer yet, but I just got word that Pollard will sneak preview Slavery by Another Name at Howard University this Saturday, November 5th. His appearance, which will also include a discussion with the filmmaker on his experiences as a veteran narrative and doc filmmaker, is part of the School of Communications’s Department of Radio/Television/Film Time Warner Lecture Series.
The event is open to the public, and will begin at 2PM in Screening Room West, in the C.B. Powell Building.
For more information, visit Howard University School of Communications: http://communications.howard.edu/.