A self-absorbed Black American fashion model on a photo shoot in Africa is spiritually transported back to a plantation in the West Indies where she experiences first-hand the physical and ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kofi Ghanaba ...
Sankofa
...
Mona
Alexandra Duah ...
Nunu
Nick Medley ...
Joe
Mutabaruka ...
Shango
...
Noble Ali
Reggie Carter ...
Father Raphael
Mzuri ...
Lucy
Jimmy Lee Savage ...
Mussa
Hasinatu Camara ...
Jumma
Jim Faircloth ...
James
Stanley Michelson ...
Mr. Lafayette
John A. Mason ...
Big Boy
Louise Reid ...
Esther
Roger Doctor ...
Nathan
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Storyline

A self-absorbed Black American fashion model on a photo shoot in Africa is spiritually transported back to a plantation in the West Indies where she experiences first-hand the physical and psychic horrors of chattel slavery, and eventually the redemptive power of community and rebellion as she becomes a member of a freedom-seeking Maroon colony. Written by L. J. Allen-2

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

28 May 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Санкофа  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$2,691,899 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When no company would distribute his film, director Haile Gerima went on a roadshow tour from city to city, screening the film personally. It grossed around $3 million. See more »

Connections

Referenced in 500 Years Later (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A film of devastating power , and aching beauty
19 June 2005 | by See all my reviews

I went into this movie, half doubting I'd like it.

My doubts were unfounded, this is not a "Slavery" movie in the Hollywood sense. It is a moving allegory about people, who found themselves... enslaved.

And it is so much more than that. It is a movie about brainwashing, about religious dogma, about the use of religion to maintain an otherwise unsupportable system. About group dynamics, and about music, and about culture, and surprisingly, for a movie of such virulent subject matter... it is about beauty.

It is one of the most lushly, and beautifully filmed movies you'll ever see. It is filled with iconic, magical images. Because it is about magic... the magical, the wondrous, the spiritual.

And it will leave you alternately stunned, horrified, and amazed. It is a film of great... compassion. and great hope If you haven't seen it, or been avoiding it because of the subject matter, I completely understand. I did the same.

I'm not a big fan of films about falling down, I think looking at one's feet can become a habit, rehashing abuse can be... its own abuse. Especially when all that is portrayed... is the abuse.

It can be something of a self indulgence.

Look at our talk show society, victims happily paused, recounting endlessly their victimization, unable to move beyond it. I'm even less of a fan of films that marginalize the past, make it into this cookie cutter one size fits all experience.

Alex Hailey's roots comes to mind, or Gone with the Wind, or any number of Hollywood films about the west that typically just discount the true meltingpot, sumptuous and magical founding of this still very much troubled nation.

Discount truths, marvels, such as...

-Early inventors, inventions that launched the Industrial revolution, from Elevator to Traffic Light to Gas Mask to Telegaph came from this mass of wronged people. Early architecture, music. -The first cowboys were Black, odd how that's completely forgotten. -The founders of Chicago and LA, these Black scouts, these renaissance mountain men who spoke multiple languages, these pioneers, who went where so-called civilized men feared to tread, and made cities in the wild. -Fighters in the revolutionary war... Black. -Fighters in the civil war... on both sides... Black, yep... the south's answer to the North's military ploy, the Emancipation Proclamation... was to promise freedom for any Black and his family who put on the uniform... and fought for the grey. Many did. Many died wearing the grey.

Can you imagine it, that moment, a Black man wearing the Blue, and a Black man wearing the grey, looking across their rifles at each other, two sides of a war they never made, but that they would have to end. Truly a war of Brother vs. Brother.

That is the type of truth-is-stranger-than-fiction magic, that imbues every second of the early days of this nation. And it is a wonder, and an irony that very few films have ever captured that magic.

SANKOFA is one of those few.

There is a horror in the founding of this nation, this hemisphere, but there is a magic there. And there is ugliness in the founding of this nation, but there is great beauty there too.

They were magical people, these men and women and children, who American history still would demeaningly classify as slaves, rather than people who were enslaved, a seemingly minor distinction, but in that distinction rests acknowledging the wrong done, and the people, the people, not slaves, the people... it was done to.

This film is about beauty. And it's about people, farmers, seamstresses, griots, idlers, princes, paupers, masons, painters, singers, cooks, who one day found themselves... enslaved.

Sankofa is about the people we would call slaves, and their bloody fights... for humanity and freedom, under an inhuman system. For freedom, in a time of Holocaust. And it was a freedom no Emancipation proclamation gave, but a freedom they won, the only way anything is ever won, by making the days of slavery a bloody hell for slaver and enslaved.

By making the cost of blood... blood.

It is a film that remembers their... struggle. In a time when Black children are taught by a euro-centric curriculum only enough to despise their history, and themselves, and groomed to be only guard dog or guarded, this film is an essential thing.

It is about looking back to go forward. And honoring with every breath you take, those who died by the millions, that you can have the liberty... to live better, with more liberty, than they did. It is a film that passionately... in a time where media, and environment,and education have all betrayed these children... needs to be seen.

When so many have bought into the lie of their limitations, it is a film , deeply beautiful, about living beyond... labels.

And it is a film not everyone will get, the bigots won't get it, and the apologists won't get it, and the supporters of the status quo, and the soulless won't get it... but we few, we happy few, children of the Holocaust, we White children and Black and Native American, formed by the mixing blood of our unruly ancestors, we children of their promise and pain... for us the film is an ode and a debt... for what was done, and what remains to do.

Essential viewing.


14 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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