ATLANTA — The visuals and emotions from Alvin Ross’ Kunta Kinteh Island documentary, which details the legacy of arguably history’s most famous slave ever, exploded off the screen and enveloped the Woodruff Art Center that full of celebrities and dignitaries, including Tyler Perry, Soledad O’Brien, Kandi Burruss and others.
Kunta Kinteh Island: Coming Home Without Shackles was produced by Elvin Ross’ Studios, which brilliantly enlisted the services of legendary actor Ben Vereen, who played Chicken George in Alex Haley’s epic “Roots,” once the highest-rated miniseries of all time. The docu-drama transported the moviegoers back to the West African nation of Gambia and visits the descendants of Kunta Kinte, who was part of the Mandinka Tribe, when Europeans trapped them, imprisoned them and transported them on a harrowing, horrific trip to the New World to be slaves to white aristocracy.
Moreover, the documentary traces the life of Kinteh and his lasting family legacy through profiles of his relatives in the village of Juffereh, Gambia. For the first time, many African Americans and others got an up-close and powerful peek into the place where their ancestors were stolen several hundred years ago that began the African Holocaust. Kunta Kinteh Island also explored what was called James Island, the place where Kunta Kinteh and millions of his people were held in captivity just off the Gambian coast, to be broken down mentally, physically and spiritually before the long and torturous journey to Western civilization. The island was officially renamed “Kunta Kinteh Island” in a special ceremony in 2011
In addition to the endorsement from Tyler Perry, the film also receive a powerful endorsement from Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League. The film is also being widely supported by academia with planned tour stops at influential institutions including Harvard University, Morehouse College, Wayne State University, Northeastern University and St. Augustine High School in New Orleans.
“I felt the heart and emotion of our rich history in this brilliantly made and powerful documentary, Kunta Kinteh Island,” said Tyler Perry, owner of Tyler Perry Studios. “I am very proud of my long time friend and composer for recognizing the importance of retelling this story to this generation. I can’t wait for everyone to see it!”
Ross felt the need to make the film after establishing emotional bonds with Kinteh’s decendents who live in the same village to this day.
“The fact that generations of Americans have not heard this story at all or have only heard a small portion of it through the Roots series, meant there was a historical void that I felt compelled to fill in making this film,” said Ross, director, executive producer and composer of Kunta Kinteh Island. “I also wanted the Kinteh family’s generosity in sharing Kunta’s life with me to benefit the condition of their lives and further his legacy”.
Visit www.elvinross.com for more information.
Take a look at photographic highlights from the film’s premiere below.