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Emmett Lewis in Descendant by Margaret Brown
Emmett Lewis appears in Descendant by Margaret Brown. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Participant. ©2022. All rights reserved.

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground and Netflix acquired the documentary Descendant& which won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Creative Vision at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

The film directed by Margaret Brown (The Order of Myths, Be Here to Love Me: Townes Van Zandt, The Great Invisible) premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the Festival to rave reviews.

Director Margaret Brown said, “I have been humbled and honored to spend four years with the residents of Africatown as they seek justice and reconciliation for what happened in 1860, and what is still happening today,” said Brown. “I am excited that through Netflix and Higher Ground’s global reach, audiences around the world will learn this powerful history.”

Descendant follows members of Africatown, a small community in Alabama, as they share their personal stories and community history as descendants of the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to illegally transport human beings as cargo from Africa to America. The ship’s existence, a centuries-old open secret, is confirmed by a team of marine archeologists. The film explores implications of the Clotilda’s discovery for the descendants, who grapple with their heritage while claiming the power to shape their own destinies.

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