It’s only a 15 second clip, unfortunately, so there isn’t much to it in terms of length; but I thought it was worth sharing, given what is contained within those 15 seconds.
Clement Virgo’s much-anticipated film adaptation of author Lawrence Hill’s award-winning bestseller, “The Book of Negroes,” stars Aunjanue Ellis in a film that boasts one of the strongest female characters in recent fiction. The novel’s synopsis reads: “Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle—a string of slaves— Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic “Book of Negroes.” This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own. Aminata’s eventual return to Sierra Leone—passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America—is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey.”
Gooding’s Fraunces is a freed slave from Jamaica who runs his namesake tavern (Fraunces Tavern), participates in several historical events, and later moves to Mount Vernon to run George Washington’s household.
Meanwhile, Daddy Moses is Moses ‘Daddy’ Wilkinson or Old Moses, an African American slave, and Methodist preacher in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone. Though blind and crippled, Wilkinson led a band of runaway slaves to freedom in 1776.
Also Lyriq Bent is playing Chekura, who, as a young boy, made the crossing with Aminata when she was sold into slavery, is separated from her, and later reunites with her when they are adults, and have a child together.
Allan Hawco is Solomon Lindo (a Jewish man Aminata is sold to), Ben Chaplin is Capt. John Clarkson (a young British naval officer recruiting black settlers to move from Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone); and Jane Alexander plays a Maria Witherspoon, the matriarch of a white family that Aminata leaves her baby with, for safety, during a series of riots that break out as the city she lives in is attacked and black men and women are lynched. She later returns to the Witherspoon’s home to claim her child, only to learn that they’ve left with the baby.
The adaptation of the novel will be a 6-hour TV mini-series, with USA rights belonging to BET, who are teaming up with CBC in Canada, to bring the mini-series adaptation to the small screen, in February 2015.
In a recent interview with the CBC, Lou Gossett Jr., who plays Daddy Moses, said that “The Book of Negroes” is a fresh take on the slavery theme, and called this adaptation an improvement, compared to “Roots” and “12 Years a Slave.” But, he expounded on his answer, stating, “Slavery is very much involved in this lady’s life; but it’s really a triumphant story about this woman who can tell the story. In that way, it’s better than Roots, and 12 Years a Slave because it’s a portrait.”
Watch a 15-second clip from the portrait below (I can only imagine what comes next immediately after what happens in the clip); and if you haven’t seen it, the series’ trailer is underneath:
And here’s the trailer: