If anyone knows how to crash an event the right way, it’s the Obamas!
We can never get enough of former President and first time Emmy nominee Barack Obama or his lovely wife and our eternal First Lady Michelle Obama! The power couple surprised attendees at the premiere of their Netflix documentary “Descendant” on August 5 at the Martha’s Vineyard Black Film Festival.
Also in attendance were Michelle Obama, the film’s executive producer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, and director Margaret Brown. The group caught the crowd off guard and their presence was more than welcome as spectators cheered, shouted and even shed a few tears.
This highly anticipated film is the 10th film or series that Netflix and Participant have collaborated on, including “American Factory.” with Upper Ground.
According to Netflix, Descendant follows the members of Africatown, a small community in Alabama, who are descendants of the humans illegally transported on the last known slave ship from Africa to the US. The documentary feature film, backed by Higher Ground Productions from the Obamas, won the Special Jury Award for Creative Vision at Sundance in January and opened the week-long film festival on Martha’s Vineyard in Dukes County, Massachusetts.
After the crowd calmed down, Michelle Obama stepped up to the microphone to say a few words: “He spoke to us right away, so we wanted to make sure we were here to show our support for everyone involved.” She then went on to explain that the film is a reminder of the importance of sharing personal and community history with younger generations.
“What Descendant reminds us of is that we have to tell our stories to our young people,” said Michelle. “It has to be us. We cannot continue that tradition of shutting up our pain. Because what this film shows us is that our stories are the power that makes us see.”
Mrs. Obama also took some shots at social media users and their current ways.
“We need to encourage our young people to reach out to our elders who already exist,” he said. “Instead of taking photos of your food, how about talking to grandma or great-grandma and asking them some of those questions?”
Barack then stepped up to the microphone and thanked Netflix, the project team, and the festival’s founders, Floyd and Stephanie Rance. He told the crowd: “For the people of Africatown, this represented a story of extraordinary pain and hardship, but also a story of strength, resilience and overcoming.”
“It’s one of the powers of this festival, and the work the Rances have done is to bring to light stories that have too often been lost to time. Because we believe that everyone’s stories matter. Everyone has a sacred story that motivates us, moves us. It is not just a matter of nostalgia, it propels us towards the present and the future”.
The room was filled with black excellence! Also in attendance were Stacey Abrams, the Rev. Al Sharpton and former Atlanta Mayor Kesha Lance Bottoms.
The Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival will take place from August 5-13.