There are relatively few movies about slavery. Wikipedia lists about 30 total, and that includes films like Birth of a Nation, Gone With the Wind, and Spartacus, which are not especially interested in the experience of slaves in the antebellum South. In comparison, there are more than 180 films about the Holocaust (not counting documentaries). It’s true that the Holocaust was more recent—but, on the other hand, slavery occurred in the U.S., home of Hollywood. You’d think film might have something to say about it.
Perhaps things will change, given the enormous critical success of this year’s 12 Years a Slave. But should we want them to? What do we gain, if anything, from the cinematic portrayal of slavery? What would we get from 180 films about slavery, or from 30? Or, for that matter, from one?
"When Abortion Was Illegal" - an Academy Award-nominated documentary by Dorothy Fadiman
Emotions aside, if ever you wanted to understand why this right matters to so many women of so many different walks of life, this would be an excellent guide. It might appear a bit dated, considering when it was made, but it’s still just as powerful and relevant today as ever.
Written by Darius James and Oliver Hardt and directed by Hardt, the documentary The United States of Hoodoo explores the influence of African spirituality and religious customs, brought to the Americas by the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade centuries ago, in American popular culture.
Excerpt from the official synopsis:
The United States of Hoodoo is a road trip to the sources of black popular culture in America. The film’s main character is African-American writer Darius James who is known for his often bitingly satirical and self-ironic texts on music, film and literature. The film’s story begins when Darius´ world is turned inside out after his father´s death.
Uprooted from his life in Berlin, he unwillingly returns to his childhood home. All that remains from his father is his mask collection and a cardboard box filled with ashes. His father had been a painter and sculptor, his work drawing deeply on manifestations of African-based spirituality.Yet while he lived he fiercely rejected any idea of being inspired by the old gods of Africa.
Back in a house that is now his, but not quite, Darius finds himself confronted with many questions about his own life. In need of answers he sets off on a search, not for his roots but for traces of the spiritual energy that fueled and informed a whole culture.