Saturday, September 8, 2012

Become a Film Producer in the Next Two Days

As you know, I am a collector of antique photographs, including daguerreotypes, and have focused my collection especially on photographs that address the subject of race.   Many of my posts --subtitled "The Story Behind the Photograph"-- (there's a list of them at the right) --have dealt with the ways early abolitionists (and anti-abolitionists) used the  new "science" of photography as propaganda for their views --utilizing photos like "The Scourged Back" and "A Mulatto Raised by Charles Sumner" above, not to mention all the "white slave children" from New Orleans whose photos were circulated and sold by abolitionists during the Civil War.

Professor Gregory Fried from Suffolk University has created a website called "Mirror of Race" using antique photos to explore people's understanding of the race question.  Now, working with filmmaker, story teller and musician Derek Burrows (below) he is raising funds for a documentary film in which 12 antique photographs will be used to question people from different cultural backgrounds about their attitudes toward race.

The finished documentary, "Reflections on Race" will be shown at film festivals and at schools and universities.

But the filmmakers have only two more days--until Monday--to hit their goal of $25,000 under a   Kickstarter  campaign to raise funding for the project. (Kickstarter, in case you don’t know, is a crowd-funding website for projects in the arts:     )

Right now--at noon on on Saturday-- they're up to  just over $15,000.

You can see the Kickstarter proposal here: 

The filmmakers will accept donations as small as a dollar and, as the donations increase in size, you get more goodies for your money.  I just donated $250 which will get me an invitation to the premiere in Boston as well as  a signed poster, DVDs of the film, etc.  If you donate a thousand dollars you even get an original historic antique daguerreotype of your own.

So check out the kickstarter proposal above and see if you want to help produce this important documentary film that uses antique photographs and contemporary interviews to explore the very prickly and ever more important topic of attitudes toward race.

Reflections on Race is a personal documentary of my exploration of race though a series of interviews using 19th century photographs.
  • Launched: Aug 2, 2012
  • Funding ends: Sep 10, 2012
“REFLECTIONS ON RACE”   (Your donations are tax deductible)
“Reflections on Race” is a personal documentary about my exploration of race from my childhood of growing up in the Bahamas, through my arrival to study music in the United States, and what it means in my life and the people around me today.
Through interviews with people from all walks of life, “Reflections on Race” uses these conversations, together with stories, artistic reflections, to create a dynamic documentary about my journey as I explore how we view the Other—and ourselves.  

My distinctive approach is to show people very early photographs, some more than 150 years old, and then to ask them what they think they are seeing without giving them any information. These images from a distant past have the power to jar people out of their defensiveness, to move them to speak in ways that they would not in everyday life. I ask them to say what they think they see, then to reflect, to tell their own stories as evoked by the images.

My working assumption is that imagination is the key to understanding. When we listen carefully, the stories we tell teach us about ourselves. Our ways of seeing the stories we tell may contribute to a broader conversation about how we can achieve unity through our diversity.

I am Derek Burrows — storyteller, musician, web designer, and filmmaker ( My work as a performer and educator uses stories and music to teach people about the rewards of exploring cultural diversity and how to understand and relate to each other.

Greg Fried and Marie Johansen.

Funding for “Reflections on Race” will go towards the making of the documentary as well as a series of short films. Using twelve 19th century photographs, I will interview a number of people of different cultures for each image as we explore together what these images mean to them. These interviews will be used to create a series of three minute films centered around each specific image. Making these films and the documentary involves travel to interview people, transcribing interviews, editing, and producing each piece which will be put up on a website so that they can be available to educational institutions and the general public.

The documentary “Reflections on Race” will be screened for a variety of audiences, both at film festivals and at schools and universities.

 “Reflections on Race ” is also part of a larger, web-based project called Mirror of Race (, a federally recognized nonprofit organization devoted to teaching, learning, and talking about how we see the Other.  Each of the short films in “Reflections on Race” will be connected with an image exhibited on the Mirror of Race website.  Access will be entirely free and open to the viewing public. The interviews will be integrated with other educational materials, such as essays by scholars and other writers, artworks and teaching guides that invite teachers to bring these images, interviews, essays and other works into the broader conversation of the classroom.


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by Joan Gage said...

Just want everyone to know--they hit their goal on time--thanks to your help--and "Reflections on Race" is completely funded.