Sundance review: "Slavery by Another Name"
Published: January 27, 2012 10:48AM
Updated: January 27, 2012 10:26AM
Director/producer Sam Pollard on the set of the re-enactments for the documentary “Slavery by Another Name.” (Photo by Leisa Cole | courtesy Sundance Institute) Courtesy Leisa Cole

“Slavery by Another Name”

U.S. Documentary

*** ½ (three and a half stars)

Even in an age of cinema verite and advocacy documentaries, there's still a place for a well-crafted historical documentary – especially if the subject is as compelling as in director Sam Pollard's film. Based on the book of the same name by reporter Douglas A. Blackmon, the film details the conspiracy by Southern whites after the Civil War to keep African-Americans enslaved, either as convicts based on the flimsiest of charges or through being forced to work off debt. Pollard uses re-enactments to illustrate the plight of these African-Americans, a trenchant narration by Laurence Fishburne, and interviews with historians and descendants of both the enslaved and those doing the imprisoning. The results shine a necessary light on a long-ignored and shameful chapter of American history.

-- Sean P. Means

“Slavery by Another Name” screens again: