The Empire project is a documentary series from Dutch-American filmmakers Eline Jongsma, Kel O’Neill which centers on what they call the unintended consequences of Dutch colonialism, asking the question: Has colonization brought only misery?
Obviously that suggests that the filmmakers see some upside to colonialism and will explore that in their documentary.
Specifically, the Dutch-American filmmakers traveled to 7 former Dutch colonies, in 2010, 2011, and 2012, including: Brazil, Suriname, Ghana, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and South Africa, and while in each of those countries, interviewed select residents, asking for their POV on the fact that their homeland was once colonized, and how they view existing remnants of that colonization.
Not-so surprisingly, they don’t all view colonization and its effects the same way. Apparently, they don’t all view colonialism entirely through a negative lens, suggesting that it’s not so black and white.
But as the filmmakers note, the background of each person influences their POV.
There’s photographer Isaac Vanderpuije who comes from a privileged family who made good money trading Ghanaian slaves; there’s James Libretto who’s a descendant of slaves, and he’s still digging for gold in Suriname; and there’s Rayanne Reinholz, whose ancestors immigrated to Brazil when slavery was abolished, and were among the many low-paid guest workers who had to take over the heavy work.
But one thing they all seem to agree on is that their colonial histories, no matter how varied, serves an importance in the present-day lives.
To find out how exactly, you’ll just have to wait for the documentary to reach your neck of the woods.
It’ll screen next at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam later this month.
Here’s a sample of what to expect via 2 intriguing clips, and an official poster (I’d like to see the rest of this):