‘Descendant’ Director Margaret Brown Interview — Contenders Documentary –

Higher Ground, the production company founded by Barack and Michelle Obama, has built an enviable track record with Oscar voters, earning a nomination for best documentary last year. Crap campand win in 2020 American factory. It’s back in the Oscar race this year. childrena Netflix documentary directed by Margaret Brown.

The award-winning film focuses on the descendants of the Kiltilda, the last slave ship to enter America, which sailed in Mobile Bay, Alabama, on the eve of the Civil War.


RELATED: The Contenders Documentary – Full Coverage

“The Obamas’ and the Netflix platform are only important because … these kinds of histories are being obscured and obscured and denied,” Brown said during an appearance at’s Containers Film: Documentary event. . “And to have that kind of support against people who would rather not tell these stories.”

In part, the documentary explores efforts to find the remains of the Clotilda, which sank shortly after unloading human cargo on a stretch of the Mobile River, around 1860. After more than 150 years of searching, the boat was finally located next to it. Land owned by the Maher family, descendants of the man who bankrolled the illegal expedition to import slaves (the practice was outlawed in 1808).

“I never thought when I was making the movie that it was necessary to find the ship,” said Brown, who is from Mobile. But then when they got the ship and everything that followed, I was so glad they did because as Kamau. [Sadiki, diver and slave shipwreck investigator] In the movie, they say, this is this concrete piece of evidence. It’s a very important pattern, and it’s also an emotional pattern. And I think it opened up the story in all these ways that I wasn’t quite ready for.


The main focus of children, in many cases, is the fate of Africantown — the neighborhood in North Mobile founded by Clotilda survivors — and the people who trace their ancestry to those survivors. The historic community is bisected by a freeway and written by heavy industry located on land owned by the Maher family. Toxins permeate the air, a suspected cause of high rates of c*ncer and other diseases among area residents. There is a strong sense that inherent white power still negatively affects the lives of black people in Africatown.

“When you drive into Africantown, there’s a very clear sense of where you are. It’s like a small community and it’s very residential. The smell of industry is all around, ” Brown said. “It’s very loud. The noise pollution is very high. We don’t know what’s in the soil. For five years when I was making the film, I was thinking how to translate what it feels like to come here. … When you’re in a cemetery, which is a historic site … there’s an asphalt plant next to it that gives you a headache if you’re there at certain times of the day when it’s too hot from the smoke. So, it was really about translating in a clear and emotional way.

Check back Wednesday for the panel video.


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