Another Possible Slave Revolt Film, This Time With Nat Turner

by Jasmin
October 11, 2011 11:45 AM
17 Comments
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Sharon Ewell Foster, author of the new fact-based novel, The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part One: The Witnesses, recently took her book tour to Los Angeles in hopes of making contact with some important figures in Hollywood.

In the wake of Danny Glover's efforts to get his Toussaint Louverture project off the ground, and Jamie Foxx starring in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, Foster is hoping to add one more slave revolt/revenge film to the pack.

As leader of the 1831 Virginia revolt that left more than 50 whites dead, Turner is a figure controversial enough to make it tough to get a film about him made. There's been talk of different parties trying in the past, perhaps most notably Spike Lee, who floundered due to lack of funding.

But Foster believes the world is ready for a new perspective:

“The image of Turner we have been bequeathed is one of a religious fanatic, a lunatic who attacked without cause. Perhaps, he was like Nathan Hale, a man seeking liberty, a man protecting his family and community. I think we are mature enough to look at our complete history knowing that the beauty of it is also in the terror of it.”

Foster takes a similar stance to Lee in discrediting the primary historical document on Turner, The Confessions of Nat Turner, written in 1831 by Thomas Gray, who purported to be Turner’s attorney. Her five years of research included interviewing descendants of those killed, as well as Turner’s family, review of Governor John Floyd’s original diary, and analysis of trial transcripts and related documents.

Still, I wonder whether Foster's story will have the narrative drive to push past the inevitable difficulties of making a film where 50 white people get killed, at the hands of blacks. Unlike Foster, I'm not so sure whether our society is that mature.

[ThisNThat]

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17 Comments

  • tabby | January 12, 2012 10:46 PMReply

    there's already movie about Nat Turner in production right now www.NatTurnerUnchained.com

  • urbanauteur | October 17, 2011 5:23 AMReply

    @Rob, what we crankin? nutmeg or meth in a liter jar? just a cursory look at their[afro-latin-cuban] film slate in the last 5 years should be suffient enuf 'EVIDENCE' that its film(reaD;indie producers are more receptive than the current climate here, not that this Tea party/post racial mirage going to change anytime soon) for example, there's alot of Afro_Cuban co-productions that manifest with-in those scant yrs- one in particular-Algerian_auteur-Rachid Bouchreb,last 3 films, but the my main point is,these up start indie/film houses-Gullane Films-Sharp Angle & O/2Films, along with their RECEPTIVE Film Producers, bottom line , one gotta have some Good sh!t from jump!to get in the door,plus it'll help if WE bring some kind of money into the meeting(all is fair) but from the looks of your reactionary posture only suggest maybe two thing's- your Lack of Sargasity and Xenophobia toward YOUR OWN Historical Vacuum.
    p.s.-recommend reading: Open Veins In Latin America- Edward Said and Wreched of the Earth- Franz Fanon

  • Rob | October 14, 2011 10:27 AMReply

    Spainiards and Latinos are some of the most racist groups towards people of color. This idea that they will greenlight our projects over whites is a fairy tale.

    How many Afro-Latino films are being financed by them? Little to none. Please...give me a break with the "they do what we won't" presumptiveness.

  • Carlton Jordan | October 14, 2011 5:34 AMReply

    Anyone know how to get in contact with her?? cj@carltonjordan.com!

  • urbanauteur | October 13, 2011 5:15 AMReply

    @Tambey
    @Sergio
    @MissWoo
    @Tamara
    @SharonEwellFoster__________Maybe WE should start a Mass Film Project Exodus over to SPAIN, who have a bevy of light-minded-`uberProducers(ie: ed pressman-otto groenberger-types!:),for examaple, late great surrealist-director-Raoul RUIZ- 6 hour-Magum Opus-Mysteries Of Lisben, $2 million bucks!, and its simply beautiful!, i'm ready like Manny Pacial, where's Flyold Merriweather at???:).

  • CareyCarey | October 13, 2011 1:55 AMReply

    @AV, I agree, profit is one of the scales/gages many use to define "success", however, profit is determined by many variables, which we all know can be “adjusted”. Is there a set in stone budget to every genre/story? Of course not.

    What I am saying is a profit margin is directly related to "expenses". Consequently, the subject matter of a film is NOT the defining factor in why a film does not turn a profit, hence (again) "I am suggesting we should first ponder all the elements that determines box office success"

    That is a true statement.

  • AccidentalVisitor | October 12, 2011 12:34 PMReply

    {{{ re: Great Debater, again, I was merely addressing the ambiguity of statements like “black folks didn’t support it“. Black folks did support it. Like you, I’ve watched it several times and I’ve used it as a study tool. However, when we make vague statements that throws a blanket over all black folks, I am suggesting we should first ponder all the elements that determines box office success. }}}

    All the elements? How about profit?

    It is nice that many of us paid a ticket to see "The Great Debaters" (myself included). But not enough of us did. By no means was it a perfect movie. it had a bunch of flaws and frankly could have used more screentime between Forest and Denzel. Still it should have made more money and not have been "discovered" by black folks on cable or through illegal sales at barbershops.

  • CareyCarey | October 12, 2011 9:25 AMReply

    Leon, I am partially agreeing with you. My reference to the “A-List” was simply a rebuttal to your assumption/ assertion that A-List(ers) would run from this project. As you noted, they didn’t run from Django, so my statement stands.

    re: Great Debater, again, I was merely addressing the ambiguity of statements like “black folks didn’t support it“. Black folks did support it. Like you, I’ve watched it several times and I’ve used it as a study tool. However, when we make vague statements that throws a blanket over all black folks, I am suggesting we should first ponder all the elements that determines box office success.

    You’re doing that to some degree, but obviously we are not identifying nor agreeing on all the parameters (intrinsic elements) that goes into how and why certain movies are green lit, and why some folks (white and black)pass on certain genres.

    In short, it cannot be denied that budgets, marketing, who’s who, profitability and the color of a director and actors skin, all play into why a film may or may not become a hit, or considered a “success”. Which has little to do with who has the largest nut sack.

  • LeonRaymond Mitchell | October 12, 2011 6:21 AMReply

    And to the person who stated "does Django have A-Listers -come on you have to consider Jamie Fox, Leonardo D'Caprio and Sam Jackson A-Listers, so that statement does Dajango have A-listers -hell yeah! You would need some body like Sidney or Morgan to direct and produce this project to get it green lit and to get a awesome cast and I can't those two taking that risk.

    Hey maybe you know better maybe you know this Black America that I have not seen yet. I tell you one thing it would be the greatest water cooler movie ever made and if you loved it and have White friends then you will not have those same friends again after that !

  • LeonRaymond Mitchell | October 12, 2011 5:54 AMReply

    Come on with all due respect -The Great Debaters was a film made for us and by us an excellent film with damn good acting and production value and did we go and support it -Hell no, it bombed , weeks later a Tyler Perry film came out and was #1 at the box office So you really think a film about Nat Turner is going to get made is fake post racial climate. I would love to see it as i saw Debaters over and over again But who's going to put the money up for it and what A-list actors (or known faces to get it made) are going to attach them selves to it and it can not be done by a White director or writer. Be real -Get real you known the conversations once the script is finished by potential investors Uh excuse who do you have attached to this, what your budget is how much well we need to cut that down to about 3 million and you must get some known faces (Not Rappers ) you can 't compare this to Django cause Black folk will always bow down to Masser to be in his film I am talking about a Black project top to bottom now go and find a company or person or Black investor with GUTS!!! Like I said I know how it can be done -the radical Latino brothers and sisters who fund my projects is window, produce one of theirs and they will produce one of yours cause they always ask me how come Black don't want to partner up to make projects. well I am , and film Like NAT TURNER you going to have not have backward thinking to get it done White folk will fear this project 100 times more than any Tupac project that can ever be made. Maybe go up to Canada find a Canadian with deep pockets who has no connection to American and American History and then get it funded and produced as a 100% Canadian Project !

  • CareyCarey | October 12, 2011 3:00 AMReply

    “A lot of people wouldn’t be able to handle it. Society isn’t ready for a film like this“

    Neziah, I‘m sorry but that‘s a woefully ambiguous statement. Well, let me expound on my thoughts by championing the words of a couple comments.

    However, before I do that, I have to highlight 2 more comments that makes little or no sense.

    “This is a castor oil movie -we already know timid Black folk will not go out and support it as they did not support the great debaters 2. Black folk will not go and see this unless the lead is wearing a skirt”

    WHAT?!

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Now, here’s where I am at. The following is what I agree with, which I believe makes the most sense.

    “My first impulse has been to grade ‘Django’ according to Nat Turner. That being said, I don’t believe anyone should have an issue with narrative development. It’s all inside. I could care less who’s “ready” for the film”

    Bingo! First, who are these ambiguous/anonymous “black folks” and “society” who are not “ready” for a movie of this nature? And WTH does “ not ready” mean? And who said this movie is a “castor oil” movie? Who defines that as such, and what parameters/guidelines are they using. SMDH

    More importantly, WHO didn’t support The Great Debaters? Yeah, again, who is that ambiguous/anonymous group and where do they live?

    _______________________________________-

    “A-list Black actors will not be caught dead in this -Will Smith are you kidding he turned down QT’S film project”

    What!? What does A-list have to do with this (whoever they are) and does Tarentino’s film include “A-List-ers”?

    _________________________________

    Listen, black folks have endured the most brutal and inhumane conditions known to man. So why now will “they” not be able to “handle” this sort of movie? Granted some white folks do not enjoy movies in which they have to address their evil ways, so what‘s the real issue? Well, it’s been proven that the majority of white folks could care less about ANY affairs/movies, etc, of people of color. So let’s put the “blame” ball in the right court. If any story is told right, with truth, honesty and courage, blacks will, and have ingratiate them with open arms. WE just have little tolerance/ patience for bamboozlement. Tell the damn story but tell it right.

  • Theodore Hollingsworth | October 12, 2011 2:09 AMReply

    Anybody that says that any movie won't get made is dumb. You know how drastically stuff changes from year to year in the U.S.?

    I feel like any conscience black filmmakers have had the idea of making the Nat Turner movie for years (lord knows I have). This Tarentino film being completed and successful in the box office, will be the biggest indicator of whether or not this film will be made. If folks are receptive to it, then yea, I see somebody else trying to strike while the irons hot and produce this film. If it's unsuccessful, then it may take awhile longer, but trust at some point Nat Turner will see his turn on the silver screen. If not him, then at least John Brown will. That story has already got a leading white male in it....

  • JMac | October 12, 2011 1:54 AMReply

    It could be made and should be but it'll have to be an indie film - with lots of violence.

    @Leon, out of all your points only number 5 and maybe 4 are legit.

  • JT | October 12, 2011 1:29 AMReply

    My first impulse has been to grade 'Django' according to Nat Turner. That being said, I don't believe anyone should have an issue with narrative development. It's all inside. I could care less who's "ready" for the film.

  • LeonRaymond Mitchell | October 12, 2011 1:25 AMReply

    It will never see the light of a projector -America is not ready for that story at all and here's why

    1. This is a castor oil movie -we already know timid Black folk will not go out and support it as they did not support the great debaters

    2. Black folk will not go and see this unless the lead is wearing a skirt

    3.Black investors will not have the guts 100% not to invest in this and that leaves White investors and come on get real they ain't going to invest in this

    4. A-list Black actors will not be caught dead in this -Will Smith are you kidding he turned down QT'S film project

    5. In 60's early 70's When Black folk had Balls that's when they should have made this with a Black director with Black money not now when 48% of Black Americans are lost and don't stand up for anything. You would have to do a doc first spoon feed people and see then unleash a feature film doubt if that will work but that's the only keen option.

    6. I would partner with a strong Latino Org like I am doing with my own projects and make a deal to let's bank roll one of yours and then you bank roll one of mine, but since Black folk don't support other folks endeavor I can 't see that one going down!

    That book will stay a book until some Brit who has the Balls that American Blacks deeply Lack comes forward and puts together a trioka of investors and Black cash rich folk to make it happen

  • Neziah | October 11, 2011 12:56 PMReply

    .........Which is exactly why it needs to be made and released. Society needs a wake-up call.

  • Neziah | October 11, 2011 12:55 PMReply

    A lot of people wouldn't be able to handle it. Society isn't ready for a film like this.

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