The Restitution Study Group (RSG), a New York reparatory justice institute, is celebrating victories at the Cannes film festival Marche du Film. Their short film, “They Belong to All of Us: The Benin Bronze Slave Trade Story,” won two awards at the International Cell Phone Cinema Awards in Cannes: Best Film for Social Purpose and 2nd Place for Short Film in 2D.
“We are very grateful our untold story was well received. We hope that it helps the world to know that DNA Descendants of people enslaved by the Benin kingdom in exchange for metal melted and cast into the Benin bronzes want our share of these relics to stay at museums in countries we live in due to slavery,” says Farmer-Paellmann.
The film was written by Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, Executive Director of the RSG, and directed by New York film maker, Tylon Washington whose immediate reaction to the wins was: “I’m in shock right now! Thank you for believing in us and screening our film!”
“A few producers have asked for meetings on the project and other festivals have invited us to participate. We look forward to a full length feature narrative or documentary in the near future,” says Washington.
The documentary runs for 6 minutes and 44 seconds and explores who are the proper owners of the Benin bronzes and why they must be shared. It depicts the story of the Punitive Expedition of 1897 that left the powerful Benin kingdom demolished and void of its most precious cultural property — 10,000 iconic relics worth $30 billion in today’s currency.
Deadria Farmer-Paellmann was a law student in 1999 when she unearthed the untold narrative. The bronzes were made with metal manillas forged in Germany and paid to the Benin kingdom by European transatlantic slave traders in exchange for captives. The kingdom melted the manillas and refabricated them into the Benin bronzes. This was practiced for 300 years and ended with the close of the Brazilian slave trade in 1888.
A news crew from top German TV station WDR followed Farmer-Paellmann part of the day on the Croisette — the main walkway used by Cannes Film Festival participants — as she invited people to screen the film. They are expected to broadcast the segment as soon as today, Saturday, May 27th, 2023.
Part of the documentary was shot on a Samsung cellphone on the Jersey Shore of New Jersey in the United States. The cellphone film competition founder, Professor Karl Bardosh, of New York University in New York City, expressed that Cannes used to be about important stories like this, and the cellphone is a powerful vehicle to tell them. Bardosh is a Holocaust survivor whose mother was pregnant with him when she played dead when shot at by the Danube River in Hungary during a Holocaust extermination attempt.
“Today, the school children in Germany visit concentration camps to learn about the Holocaust so that it never happens again. What will our children have to teach them Germany’s role in the transatlantic slave trade for 300 years, and that Benin kingdom and European human trafficking was wrong? We need to keep our bronzes,” says Sheila Camaroti, Germany/Brazil Mobilizer for the RSG from Frankfurt, Germany who attended the festival, helped produce the film, and is a DNA Descendant of Benin kingdom captives from Brazil.
To screen the shortfilm online or to invite the filmmakers to do a presentation with Q & A, go to: http://www.rsgincorp.org or email us at: email@example.com.
Photos by: Karen Wallace and Hotel Cristal Cannes
Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, J.D., M.A.
Restitution Study Group
One Reply to “Benin Bronze Slave Trade Film Wins Two Awards At Cannes – Restitution Study Group Celebrating Recognition”
I would love to be a part of this. I am a descendent of chattel slavery in the US. This was so hard touching because for so long we have been lied to so much about our history, and the part of Africans being participants is not highlighted enough to tell the full story. I support this work I would love to be a part of it