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S. Epatha Merkerson, Ruby Dee Star In Barbara Montgomery's Historical Triptych 'Mitote'

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act January 15, 2013 at 5:00PM

Very intriguing project here from veteran actress turned director, producer, Barbara Montgomery, titled Mitote.
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Still From Mitote
Still From Mitote

Very intriguing project here from veteran actress turned director, producer, Barbara Montgomery, titled Mitote.

The film, which is said to be a film adaptation of an original, historically-based drama written by Maisha Baton, Ph.D., tells the story of three African American women - Miss Yolonda, Miss Kate and Miss Ruth.

Through the casual dialogue in their backyard setting, circa 1900 New Mexico, we are given a personal recounting of African Americans in New Mexico’s history. Each woman has a story to tell and each story is based on a different, unique historical incident. The screenplay interweaves the chronicle of Estabanico, the Spanish Moor who, while exploring the New World with Cabeza de Baca, became the first non-indigenous person to inhabit what is currently New Mexico and Arizona, with the oral history of post slavery ‘exodusters’ making their way from the war ravaged South into Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado. Equally fascinating is the third dramatic cross current that recounts events from the life of an African American woman who served as a scout in the U.S. Cavalry by posing as a man.

Like I said, an intriguing triptych.

Starring in the film are S. Epatha Merkerson as Miss Ruth, Ruby Dee as Miss Yolonda, and Sharon Hope as Ms Kate.

So, at the very least, this should be an actors clinic.

Montgomery says she discovered Baton's original work in 1992 - when Baton was teaching at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque - and she was moved by it, stating:

Because of it’s historic significance the story stayed with me; pulling on my sense of self as an African-American woman with the need to go deeper into the past, and bring it’s messages to the present for all to experience.

Ms Montgomery, whose resume is packed with TV work, going back to 1976, is making her directorial debut with this film, from a screenplay adapted by Leslie Lee.

By the way, "El Mitote" is essentially energy...

... a living force that breathes life into the world of male history. It comes forth in the talk of women when it carries the images of who we are and who we have been.

And on Monday, January 21, 4pm, at the Museum Of The Moving Image here in NYC, excerpts from Mitote will be screened, as part of the museum's Martin Luther King Day programming.

Present for a discussion that will follow the screening of excerpts will be Barbara Montgomery herself, who will be joine by actors S. Epatha Merkerson and Ruby Dee.

This is something I'm obviously going to make an effort to attend, or at least make sure I have someone repping S&A present, so that we can share our findings afterward.

No trailer yet for the film, or much media, except for the above image.


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