Katrina Browne accepting BIFF awardTraces of the Trade has won the best documentary award at the Bahamas International Film Festival in Nassau.

Katrina Browne, the film’s director and producer (pictured), was on hand last night to accept the honor, the “Spirit of Freedom: Documentary Award.”

Also winning awards at the festival were three dramatic films (in the categories of short film, narrative, and “new vision”) and three-time Oscar nominee Johnny Depp (winning the festival’s career achievement award). The festival featured 68 films from 26 different nations.

In 1800, the sloop Fanny, owned by James D’Wolf of the United States, arrived in the Bahamas with a cargo of 54 slaves purchased in Africa. He was my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather.

I think it is only fitting that, more than two centuries later, a descendant of the D’Wolfs came to the Bahamas to screen a documentary in which several of us acknowledge the sins of our forefathers and strive to address their legacy today.

Tonight, the 30th annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards were presented by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in a ceremony at New York’s Lincoln Center.

As an historical consultant on the PBS documentary Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, I was nominated, along with my fellow researchers, for an Emmy for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research.”

While we didn’t win, it was truly an honor just to be nominated, and I congratulate Salimah El-Amin and Blair Foster of HBO’s Taxi to the Dark Side for their accomplishment. Their film examines how the U.S. has treated detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, focusing on compelling research into the apprehension of an innocent taxi driver by U.S. forces and the circumstances leading to his eventual death at Bagram Airfield.

We are quite pleased that our nomination has helped to raise the visibility of Traces of the Trade, and has highlighted the importance of its historical subject matter.

Our research revealed for the first time that James D’Wolf was the leading slave-trader in U.S. history, and that his family were collectively the leading slave-trading family in our history. The D’Wolf family carried out at least 96 slaving voyages, bringing some 11,455 enslaved Africans to the Americas.

By my calculations, there may be more than 500,000 people alive today who are descended from those brought across the Middle Passage on D’Wolf slave ships.

The film raised much broader issues than our family’s history, however. This family’s involvement in the slave trade in many ways represents, in miniature, the American slave-trading experience. Our research into the family’s history has shed new light on the ways in which American slave traders operated, and the deep connections between their economic activities and the rest of American society. The research summarized in the film heightens our understanding of the role of the north in slavery and the slave trade, and emphasizes the centrality of slavery in American history. These are themes which I am exploring in more detail, and which I will begin presenting at the African Studies Association conference in New Orleans this fall.

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Traces of the TradeI blogged last week that Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North had been nominated for an Emmy Award in “Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research.”

The list of individuals nominated for the award is now available. In addition to those credited in the film as researchers and mentioned last time, the list includes:

Africanus Aveh (line producer)
Andrew Barr (intern)
Boris Iván Crespo (line producer)
Elizabeth Delude-Dix (co-producer)
Heather Kapplow (associate producer)
Alla Kovgan (writer)
James DeW. Perry (historical consultant)

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Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North has been nominated for an Emmy Award by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

The nomination is in the category of “Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research,” one of thirty-three categories for news reports and documentary films aired on national television in the last year.

Congratulations to Katrina Browne and the rest of our research team—Catherine Benedict, Beth Sternheimer, and Jennifer Anderson.

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Traces of the Trade has been named the best documentary in the “Courage in Filmmaking” category for 2008 by the Women Film Critics Circle.

Gender played a central role in our discussions of race and privilege during the filming of Traces of the Trade, even though this issue did not appear in the finished film. So I think that this award, by an organization promoting the voices and perspectives of women in film, is a particularly fitting tribute to the work that Katrina Browne and everyone involved with the film has done.

The awards ceremony will be broadcast live on Wednesday, December 31 at 11am on WBAI-AM (New York) and streamed online at wbai.org.

Traces of the Trade has won the New England Emerging Filmmaker award in the documentary category at the 17th annual Woods Hole Film Festival.