A few months ago S&A’s Cynthia Reid did an influential write-up for the new feature-length documentary project Wilmington On Fire and their efforts to raise more production funds. Due to her efforts and the hard work of the producers of the film the IndieGoGo campaign to tell the present day story of the Wilmington Massacre of 1898 and how the descendants of the victims of the event are asking for legal action in regards to reparations was highly successful. Now that the doc has completed principle photography, here are some updates (including new video clips!) from Wlimington director Christopher Everett and his executive producer Pete Chatmon, whom most of you best know from his directorial debut Premium, starring Dorian Missick and Zoe Saldana.
For those unfamiliar with Wilmington On Fire’s story, The Wilmington Massacre of 1898 was a bloody attack on that African-American community by a heavily armed white mob on November 10, 1898 in the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina. It is also considered one of the only examples of a violent overthrow of an existing government (coup d'etat) and left countless numbers of African-American citizens dead. This event was the springboard for the white supremacy movement and Jim Crow segregation efforts throughout the state of North Carolina, and the American South. As Cynthia mentioned back in January, those in the know are familiar with similar massacres that took place in Tulsa (Greenwood), Oklahoma aka “Black Wall Street” (1921) and Rosewood, FL (as reflected in John Singleton’s 1997 film Rosewood) regarding US history but not Wilmington.
As highlighted on their IndieGoGo page, “the purpose of the film is to educate and bring awareness to people of all racial, cultural and economic backgrounds on the importance, significance of this event in history and to present the story from an African-American perspective. This incident is barely mentioned and has been omitted from most history books. It was not until 2006, after the North Carolina General Assembly published a report on it, that the tragedy become known to the public. It was supposed to be a secret, and it was for over 100 years. The film features interviews from historians, authors, activists and actual descendants of the victims of the Wilmington Massacre of 1898."
In the past few months both Everett and Chatmon have kept their followers very aware of the project on the Wilmington On Fire Facebook page as well as on Chatmon’s Double 7 Images production company page. These updates include interview clips and special archival photos and short bios of significant Wilmington residents from the doc. Of note is a snippet from their interview with independent researcher Kent Chatfield who shows the 1892 petition by white folks in North Carolina to “re-establish in North Carolina the SUPREMACY of the WHITE RACE”. The quote Chatmon, “the CAPS are not mine.” You can see that HERE.
Everett himself is an actor, writer, director and producer with a degree in Graphic Design from King's College in Charlotte, NC. No stranger to the documentary world, his first docu is a short entitled The Laurinburg Institute Est. 1904, on a historic African-American Boarding & Day School in his hometown of Laurinburg, NC (see the preview trailer HERE. Everett has also starred in many commercials throughout the southeast and indie films such as the award-winning narrative short “On My Last Breath”.
He also informed me that now best selling author Tariq Nasheed, who also directed the historical documentary Hidden Colors and new feature film The Eugenist, has also come on the project as a producer, lending both his expertise and popularity to this necessary project. I reported on Nasheed’s work on Hidden Colors and The Eugenist in the past here on S&A.
Additionally, a new IndieGoGo campaign will be launched in a few weeks to help cover Wilmington’s post-production expenses as Everett plans to have the film ready to premiere in Wilmington, NC on November 10, 2012, right in time for the anniversary of the 1898 Massacre. So stay tuned to these pages for more info on both of these alerts.
You can see more info about this exciting new film on the film’s Facebook and Twitter pages: www.facebook.com/wilmingtononfire and www.twitter.com/wilmington1898, as well as at Pete Chatmon’s Double 7 Images website
In the meantime, enjoy these select clips below, which include the teaser trailer, interviews with Faye Chaplin (great-granddaughter of Thomas C. Miller, a prominent businessman in Wilmington before the riot), noted psychologist Dr. Umar Johnson, researcher Kent Chatfield, and Queen Quet - the Chieftess of the Gullah Geechee Nation. See even more clips at: https://vimeo.com/wilmingtononfire