*Following a screening of the 90-minute documentary “Slavery by Another Name” at the Sundance Film Festival on Monday, the audience gave a nearly 2-minute standing ovation for its director Sam Pollard.
As previously reported, the film makes its PBS debut on Feb. 13 at 9 p.m., as part of the channel’s Black History Month programming.
Based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Douglas A. Blackmon, the documentary chronicles the decades after the Emancipation Proclamation when blacks were pulled back into forced labor under a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, were arrested, compelled to work without pay and repeatedly bought and sold. Tolerated by both the North and South, forced labor lasted well into the 20th century.
“Every film I’ve done that deals with African American history, it’s important because it’s American history,” Pollard told EURweb exclusively at the Television Critics Association press tour earlier this month. “The more I can do a film that looks at this history and we can get it out to the public, the more they can understand and stop being so narrow-minded to think that American history is only one way. To see how broad it is, how complicated it is – to me, it’s an invaluable service.”
Pollard, whose directing credits include “Eyes on the Prize” and several “American Masters” documentaries for PBS, chose Laurence Fishburne to narrate “Slavery by Another Name,” and uses actors to recreate some of the heartbreaking stories from the book.
Sundance audiences are embracing the work (with one woman so overcome with emotion during a post-screening Q&A with Pollard that she was unable to speak). But will the subject matter be enough to draw viewers when it premieres next month on PBS?
Below, Pollard reveals his own personal game plan to address potential apathy – and it involves taking the film on the road.
“Slavery by Another Name” premieres on PBS Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 at 9pm ET / 8pm CT (check local listings). Watch the trailer below.