From noted editor/producer Sam Pollard comes the next 2012 Sundance US Documentary Competition title: SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME, a searing exhumation of post-abolition institutionalized racism.
Sundance Program Description:
Sam Pollard performs a remarkable act of historical reclamation in this documentary, recounting the many ways in which American slavery persisted as a practice many decades after its supposed abolition. It is a story impressive in its sweep and alarming in the way that its larger theme—an American moral failure—has been obscured in history.
Facing economic catastrophe under Reconstruction, as well as freed black citizens’ political and social ascendancy, southern states found effective tactics to continue forced servitude in new modes. Techniques such as peonage (forced labor to pay off debts), leasing convicts to private business, or forcing convict labor in state-run enterprises subjected newly freed American citizens to inescapable conditions that insidiously operated under more palatable names than slavery.
Pollard recounts this slowly evolving hidden history, including the activism that powerfully confronted it, with a stirring combination of photographs, reenactments, and the testimony of key historians, bringing to light many shocking details, but more importantly redefining “emancipation” in history and American political life.
Pollard has been involved in scores of notable documentary and narrative productions in various capacities over the past three decades. He has worked with fellow 2012 Sundance filmmaker Spike Lee on a number of his past films, including the Oscar nominated documentary 4 LITTLE GIRLS; produced two segments of the acclaimed EYES ON THE PRIZE television series; edited Sundance alums STYLE WARS and CHISHOLM ’72: UNBOUGHT & UNBOSSED; and won his sixth Emmy Award for editing BY THE PEOPLE: THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA.
Why You Should Watch:
Pollard reveals a shameful, criminal history that is likely not widely known or acknowledged but definitely should be. Thankfully, the project was produced through PBS, which will broadcast it following its Sundance bow, affording it a wide platform to reach audiences.
Check out the film’s website and Facebook page. Pollard discusses his doc in a “Meet the Artists” interview for Sundance here, and with Indiewire here. The film’s trailer may be found here. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.