Barack and Michelle Obama Make Surprise Appearance for ‘Descendent’ – Deadline

The Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival kicked off Friday night with a documentary film Descendingfrom Netflix and Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, and the former president and first lady were surprise guests on opening night.

Directed by Margaret Brown, Descendingwhich premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, follows members of Africatown, a small community in Alabama, as they share their personal stories and the history of their community as descendants of the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to illegally transport human beings as cargo from Africa to America.

When the film was first pitched by festival founders Stephanie and Floyd Rance, they brought in the director, who introduced Oscar winner Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. He spoke briefly before inviting his “friends” onto the stage. These friends happened to be the Obamas who have a home in Martha’s Vineyard.

Michelle Obama first talked about reaching out to your elders and listening to their stories and their legacy.

“We need to encourage our young people to reach out to our elders who exist,” she said. “Instead of taking pictures of your food, how about talking to grandma or great-grandma and asking them some of these questions.”

She then talked about the documentary and what is important to American history. “descendingIt reminds us of the power of the stories we have.

Afterwards, President Obama explained to the crowd why it is essential that Clotilda’s descendants and their stories be heard.

“This documentary captures an important chapter in our history, a chapter too often distorted, forgotten or buried.” He then touched on the subject of the documentary, Africatown and why they aim to connect with their past.

“For the people of Africatown, this represented a story of extraordinary pain and hardship, but also a story of strength, resilience and overcoming.”

Stacey Abrams, Reverend Al Sharpton and former Atlanta Mayor Kesha Lance Bottoms also made appearances at the screening.

To come downant explores the implications of Clotilda’s discovery for descendants, who grapple with their heritage while claiming the power to shape their own destinies, won a Special Jury Prize for Creative Vision at Sundance.

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