Why We Need More Films About Slavery – The Root

The buzz around Nate Parker’s slave-rebellion flick, The Birth of a Nation, has some people saying, “Enough with the slave movies.” I say keep them coming.

By: Demetria Lucas D’Oyley

Posted: Jan. 28 2016 3:33 PM

Nate Parker in The Birth of a Nation

Elliot Davis

I was prepared to dislike Kara Brown’s Jezebel article, “I’m So Damn Tired of Slave Movies,”

based on the title alone. That sentiment has been popular lately, given all the attention garnered at the Sundance Film Festival for actor-turned-director-producer-screenwriter Nate Parker’s upcoming film, The Birth of a Nation. Reports from Utah say the movie—a biography of Nat Turner’s life and the slave revolt he led through Southampton County, Va., in 1831—received a standing ovation after its debut screening. Fox Searchlight quickly snatched up the film for $17.5 million, a new sales record for the festival.

But it seems for every person like me, who anticipates showing up to a Magic Johnson theater (because you know they’re showing it) on opening night, there’s another person asking, “Really? Another slave film?”

I actually don’t think there are enough films about slavery. I mean, it was a roughly 245-year stretch of American history (indeed, older than the formation of the country itself). Considering the length of time, all the people involved, all their varied stories and how deeply embedded the “peculiar institution” is in America’s history (and present), there should be way more films than those that currently exist. We’re just now getting a mainstream film about Nat Turner. Do we want to throw in the towel before we get a theatrical release about Harriet Tubman or the Haitian revolution?

…(read more).

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