A stunning film with great reserves
of emotional power and intelligence, Sankofa tells
the story of Mona, a beautiful African-American model on a fashion shoot in
West Africa who becomes enmeshed with a mystical spot that forces her to recall
her racial past.
Hidden memories of her native and slave past overwhelm her
and she [along with we the audience] is taken back to the days of the journey
from Africa into American slavery.
In the movie, Mona, a contemporary model, is possesed by spirits
lingering in the Cape Coast Slave Castle in Ghana and travels to the past, where
a house servant named Shola is abused by the slave master. Nunu, an African
born field hand, and Shango, Shola's West Indian lover, continuously rebel against
the slave system. Inspired by Nunu and Shango's determination to defy the system,
Shola finally takes her fate into her own hands.
Unlike other films depicting slavery, Sankofa actually
brings audiences through the social, political and religious changes needed
to support a slave culture as well as destroy it. Because of its bold realities
and firm depiction of slavery from the eyes of the oppressed, the film has constantly
been under attack. The fight against slavery and a slave revolt are prominent
parts of the film.
"I've learned about slavery before, but I really didn't know it was like
that. What really inspired me was the way the white priest pitted them against
each other. Everyone should see the movie, people don't really know how it was
and what it still means today," said 23-year-old Lazette Jackson.
--Final Call, April 30, 1996
" My characters are basically human, engaged in something universal. Something
human. Wanting to be free. Wanting to be free is a human notion. They are not
freed by somebody else, and they don't get the idea inserted into them by Lincoln
or a Quaker saying, 'You are a slave and you need to be free.' They are all
like any human being would be in that situation trying to be free." -
Haile Gerima, Director of Sankofa
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