Eight Mississippi Delta high school students who participated in the Sunflower County Film Academy's Find Your Voice Young Filmmaker's workshop will have their work on another film featured at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
The film, I Snuck Off the Slave Ship, created by Lonnie Holley, Cyrus Moussavi, Brittany Nugent and Matt Arnett, was originally taken from a song of the same name on Holley’s 2018 album, MITH. In the film, “temporal talismans” guide Holley through the Black American experience. “But his freedom quest always seems to get trapped in the same point of discontinuum; the 4th of July, birthdate of the self-replicating slave ship, ‘America’,” says the film’s synopsis.
An established filmmaker and one of the Sunflower County Film Academy Instructors, Davenport was already scheduled to work with Holley in Atlanta on the film, but saw this as an opportunity for the students.
“I still wanted to be involved, so I worked out a plan with Cyrus Moussavi, the film's co-director. We would hire my students for a day, on July 4th, while the main production team shot a party in Atlanta. So we ended up being the second unit [film crew].
Participation in the Fourth of July shoot was optional. Eight of the 17 students in the workshop showed up on the 4th of July for the job: Keyshawn Brison, Marquisse Kirkham, Keyshaun Meeks, Keziah Allen, Omar Washington, Trayvion Dozier, Anderson Johnson and Selena Davila along with instructors Joy Davenport, Pablo Correa, and RJ Fitzpatrick.
The eight students were paid for their work on Holley’s film and will be listed in the end credits, as well as the workshop as a whole. See the press release here.