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TYPE: Documentary Feature
After Sherman is a personal documentary of the murders of nine worshipers at Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina and my father as the interim pastor.
After Sherman is a personal journey I began two years ago to learn about my ancestral history in the Carolinas, particularly the Gullah and Geechee people. This resulted in an ongoing dialogue between myself and family friend, the late Reverend and Senator Clementa Pinckney. As he was helping me with my research, tragedy struck on June 17th, 2015.
Visually shifting from towering buildings of the North to the flat lowland marshes of the southern Atlantic coast are the graveyards of abandoned rice fields. We will hear the melodic voices of the Gullah people woven like sea grass baskets with regional folklore and music. The land itself, filled with a unique cultural richness, serves as a character through its historical transformation. As a descendent of Gullah people, I make connections between the loss, sale, and development of coastal land inherited by my family and other descendants of slaves. After Sherman is a personal journey that moves between the present and the past, weaving the story lines of it's contemporary protagonists with depictions of Gullah life and history that transcend common tropes of black southern representations. This feature length film will incorporate fictional recreations, archival footage and photographs, minimal experimental storytelling as well as traditional cinema vérité. I explore the biographical and historical context that has led us to this place in time. The use of historical footage will add texture, moving between the grain and tones of film and black and white archival with saturated color in HD. There will be a clear aesthetic shift between present day scenes and the dream-like recreations of familial memory and story with an impressionistic rendering similar to Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust. These references to the past will unpack the questions the land poses for the film’s protagonists as a source of pain, pride and a site of discovery. As the film and the audience discover together, we will be left with more complex questions about our successes and failures of this attempt at preservation of land and spirit.
Jon-Sesrie Goff - Director/Producer
Director and Producer, Jon-Sesrie Goff is a filmmaker and educator. His work explores identity through the image of the community. Goff attended Morehouse College for Sociology and Economics, before completing his undergraduate studies in Liberal Arts at The New School and recently received his Masters at Duke University in Experimental and Documentary Arts. Goff has over a decade of production experience; working on a range of projects across genres including camera operator and cinematographer on the recently released and award winning documentaries including, Out In the Night (POV, Logo 2015), Evolution of a Criminal (Independent Lens 2015), The New Black (Independent Lens 2014). His first short narrative film as writer and director, Train(ed), premiered at the Martha’s Vineyard African American film festival in 2013. He has directed hundreds of videos for online platforms like Thrillist Media Group and InteractiveOne and travelled extensively as a documentary photographer exhibiting around the country at The Bushnell Theater (Hartford, CT), Papillion Art (Los Angeles, CA), and The Power Plant Gallery (Durham, NC). Currently Goff is a Cucalorus Fellow.
Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich - Producer
Producer, Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich, is a documentarian who has completed projects in Kingston, Jamaica, Miami, Florida and extensively in the five boroughs of New York City. Her work has been featured in Essence Magazine, Studio Museum’s Studio Magazine, ARC Magazine, BOMBLOG, and Guernica Magazine, Small Axe journal among others. She is the recipient of a 2015 TFI ESPN Future Filmmaker Award and a 2014 Princess Grace Award and has received grants from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council as well as National Black Programming Consortium. Madeleine has a degree in Film and Photography from Hampshire College and has an MFA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University. Her work explores themes of physicality, violence, and identity within urban space. She recently received a TFI/ESPN Future Filmmaker Prize to producer her short documentary, McKayla for ESPN.
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