New Film Features Multiracial Cast Of Actors Reading Powerful Transcripts From Former Slaves
By Taryn Finley
Michelle Jackson wanted to make another film about slavery.
But the Los Angeles-based filmmaker faced some opposition from those around her who say portrayals of the black experience should go beyond slavery. She agreed that black stories are but she said she wasn’t comfortable with the idea that many Americans were tired of the subject. Jackson told The Huffington Post that “Django,” “12 Years A Slave,” “Amistad” and similar films “do not speak for 4 million enslaved black bodies.” She said there are stories that still need to be told. So she took on the task of telling them by highlighting the stories of individual former through her film, “Another Slave Narrative.”
The 37-minute film reenacts the original transcripts from former slaves Lewis Jenkins, Fannie Moore, William Moore, Delicia Ann Wiley Patterson, Mary Reynolds and Elizabeth Sparks. They were seven of 2,300 free men and women interviewed in the Federal Writers’ Project Slave Narrative Collection 1936-1938. Jackson said that she felt compelled by these interviews because they didn’t romanticize life after emancipation. Instead, free men and women told the traumatic realities that they faced after what was meant to be freedom.
She casted 22 diverse actors —who identify as Black American, Nigerian American, white, Chinese, Indian and Latina — whom she worked with in the past. Between six and eight actors read each monologue. Making some grammar and syntax changes in the transcripts, Jackson instructed the remove their assumptions of how slaves talked and speak naturally.