The award-winning documentary strand ‘America ReFramed’ from World Channel and American Documentary will explore Georgia’s Sapelo Island, the last remaining enclave of the Saltwater Geechee community.
The new documentary Sapelo will premiere on U.S. national broadcast TV on World Channel on April 7. It will also be available to stream on worldchannel.org and other platforms.
Sapelo has won several prizes, including best documentary feature at the RiverRun International Film Festival. The film centers on two young brothers, JerMarkest and Johnathan, who are coming of age under the care of their adoptive mother, Cornelia Walker Bailey, the community’s elderly matriarch and storytelling griot. She works to raise the boys amidst personal and family struggles while trying to preserve the remains of an African American community established by her ancestors despite encroaching property developers. Bailey’s life’s work has been to maintain her Gullah–Geechee heritage, which derives from the customs and practices of enslaved Africans and their descendants, who lived in mostly self-sufficient communities.
Shot in cinema-verité style by director Nick Brandestini, with Taylor Segrest serving as co-director and writer, the film presents the unique locale of Sapelo while touching on themes of family, love and loss.
“Sapelo gives us a realistic yet magical glimpse into a slice of African American culture that is in danger of disappearing,” said Christopher Hastings, executive producer and managing editor of World Channel at GBH in Boston, in a news release. “We hope that viewers come away with new insight on an often-overlooked American community and that they are inspired to learn more about the Gullah–Geechee heritage.”
“Through stunning visuals and judiciously designed audio of the island’s natural world coupled with honest depictions of the people working to keep their culture alive, this film represents much of what modern-day documentary filmmaking strives to accomplish,” added Chris White, executive producer for ‘America ReFramed’ at American Documentary.
In addition to the World Channel broadcast, Sapelo will begin streaming on April 7 on worldchannel.org and on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app.
Photo: World Channel/YouTube