Film: Equiano & Nat Turner - Portraits zweier Protagonisten des Widerstands

Wir schließen den Eröffnungsabend mit zwei Filmportraits von Equiano und Nat Turner, zwei der Protagonisten des Afrikanischen Widerstands gegen den Sklavenhandel und die Sklaverei. Zunächst analysiert der Film "Equiano, A Son of Africa" anhand der wohl bekanntesten Autobiographie eines versklavten Afrikaners den sozialen und ökonomischen Kontext des Sklavenhandels im 18. Jahrhundert. "Nat Turner – A Troublesome Property" erzählt dagegen die Geschichte einer der erfolgreichsten Widerstandsbewegungen versklavter Afrikaner/innen in den USA. Beide Filme zeigen wir im Engl. OF. WdK, Saal, Eintritt frei.

On: Sunday, 23 november 2008
Beginning: 7 p.m.
Place: Werkstatt der Kulturen (Wissmannstr. 32, 12049 Berlin)
Entrance free!

Equiano, A Son of Africa
Direction: Alrick Riley, USA, 1996, 28 min, Engl. OenglF

Synopsis:
This BBC production employs dramatic reconstruction, archival material and interviews with scholars such as Stuart Hall and Ian Duffield to provide the social and economic context of the 18th century slave trade.

Equiano's narrative begins in the West African village where he was kidnapped into slavery in 1756. He vividly recalls the pestilence and horror of the Middle Passage: "I now wished for the last friend, Death, to relieve me." Eventually the young Equiano was shipped to a Virginia plantation where he witnessed slaves tortured with thumbscrews and the iron muzzle. Slavery, he would write, brutalizes everyone - the slaves, their overseers, plantation wives, the whole of society. Sold again to a British naval officer, he learned to read and write, became a skilled trader, and eventually managed to buy his freedom.

Equiano's adventures eventually brought him to London where he married into English society and became a leading abolitionist. His expose of the infamous slaver Zong - 133 slaves thrown overboard in mid-ocean for the insurance money - shook the nation. But it was Equiano's book that would prove his most lasting contribution to the abolitionist movement, a book which vividly demonstrated the humanity of Africans as much as the inhumanity of slavery.

Director:
Alrick Riley was born in London. After attending school in Hackney he gained a degree in Visual Communications before being accepted at The National Film and Television School. His two shorts, Money Talks and Concrete Garden achieved international film festival success and were both screened on UK television. Alrick has directed on all three series of The Cops. The first two series won BAFTA awards over concurrent years. Recently he completed a feature length pilot for BBC tv titled “Judge John Deed” staring Martin Shaw, Donald Sinden, Jenny Seagrove and Colin Salmon.

Critique:
"Powerful and evocative, this superb film is faithful to the single most important personal account ever written by a victim of the slave trade...Wonderfully instructive for high school and college students." Winthrop D. Jordan, University of Mississippi

"A superb biography and treatment of slavery and the early abolition movement.” John W. Blasingame, Yale University

"Will make students want to read Equiano's amazing narrative...Tells us as much about the 18th century Atlantic world as Ben Franklin's autobiography." Peter H. Wood, Duke University

Nat Turner – A Troublesome Property
Direction: Charles Burnett, USA, 2002, 58 min, Engl. OF

Synopsis:
In 1831, Nat Turner led a slave rebellion in Virginia that resulted in the murder of local slave owners and their families—as well Turner’s execution. At once an ambivalent cultural hero, a revolutionary figure and a subject of countless literary works, Turner has remained a "troublesome property" for those who have struggled to understand him and the meaning of his revolt, often resulting in controversy. As literary critic Henry Louis Gates explains: "There is no Nat Turner to recover… you have to create the man and his voice."

The earliest source of information about Turner, The Confessions of Nat Turner, was not written by him at all, assembled instead out of a series of jail cell interviews by white Virginia lawyer Thomas R. Gray. The man portrayed in this first telling of the Nat Turner story clearly saw himself as a prophet, steeped in the traditions of apocalyptic Christianity. However, this "confession" raised the question of whether Turner was an inspired and brilliant religious leader in search of freedom for his people or a deluded lunatic leading slaves to their doom.

Director:
Film critics have called Burnett “the nation’s least-known great film maker.”
Considered one of Americas greatest filmmakers, Charles Burnett was born in Mississippi in 1944, he grew up in Watts. He studied at UCLA's Film Department and was first noticed in 1981 with “Killer of Sheep” which won a prize at Berlin. Burnett's film “The Glass Shield”, a tense rapid-fire police drama on the corruption and racism that plagues the Los Angeles Police Department, was shown in competition at Locarno.

Critique:
"This film about the historic figure Nat Turner is magnificent. It is required viewing by all who are deeply concerned about the nature of race relations in America." Cornel West, Princeton University

"In light of current dread of terrorist assaults, Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property boldly takes on special meaning. A dramatic script, brilliant acting, and a compelling approach presents a tragic and morally ambivalent story of unfathomable horror but also a desperate cry for freedom. In its presentation of realism and myth, the film surpasses Ken Burns's historical documentaries. Throughout, commentators, both white and Black, furnish a broad range of perspectives that require us to think deeply about American racial violence and our moral and emotional reactions to it." Bertram Wyatt-Brown, University of Florida

"Brilliant work. The myth and reality of this slave rebel are both explored in an unblinking and historically informed way. And most tellingly, this film unravels the enduring dilemma of knowing and representing this most vexing aspect of American history - revolutionary violence by slaves seeking their own freedom. Finally, the elusive Nat Turner story, and the multiple ways of representing it, has been captured in this stunning and original film." David W. Blight, Yale University

"Both public and academic library collections, alike, will be enhanced by this film, which is highly recommended." Educational Media Reviews Online

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