Long-time Spike Lee editor (as well as director and producer in his own right) Sam Pollard’s feature documentary for PBS, titled Slavery by Another Name, will make its debut at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, in the documentary competition section.
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 faced some difficulties in shooting parts of the film, 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! AND it’s set to premiere at the most important film festival in the USA in about a month, which will be followed by its TV debut on PBS, on February 13th (during Black History Month of course).
Slavery by Another Name, which includes reenactment scenes, will be narrated by Laurence Fishburne.
No trailer yet, but I came across the above and below still images, as well as a 4-minute promo clip of the film.