Netflix Picks Up Worldwide Rights to Documentary ‘Descendant’

Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to Participant’s feature documentary Descendant.

Higher Ground, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, will present the film, alongside Netflix.

Descendant follows members of Africatown, a small community in Alabama, as they share their personal stories and community history as descendants of the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to illegally transport human beings as cargo from Africa to America. The ship’s existence, a centuries-old open secret, is confirmed by a team of marine archeologists. The film explores implications of the Clotilda’s discovery for the descendants, who grapple with their heritage while claiming the power to shape their own destinies.  

The film, a Night Tide production, in association with Two One Five Entertainment and directed by Margaret Brown, premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and received the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Creative Vision.

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“I have been humbled and honored to spend four years with the residents of Africatown as they seek justice and reconciliation for what happened in 1860, and what is still happening today,” Brown said in a statement. “I am excited that through Netflix and Higher Ground’s global reach, audiences around the world will learn this powerful history.”

This is the tenth film or series that Netflix and Participant have collaborated on, including American Factory with Higher Ground. 

‘Chicago 10’ Animated Documentary Reissued On Demand

Participant, River Road Entertainment and Giant Pictures will re-release Chicago 10, the acclaimed 2007 feature documentary written and directed by Brett Morgen (On the Ropes, Jane).

The documentary, about the arrest and trial of eight Vietnam War protesters on charges of inciting a riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, will be available on demand via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video and FandangoNow.

Chicago 10 explores the build-up to and the unraveling of the protesters’ conspiracy trial. The protesters include such famous counter-culture figures as Abbie Hoffman,  Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, and Tom Hayden. After numerous outbursts, Seale was severed from the case and sentenced to four years in prison on 16 contempt charges. The title of the film is drawn from a quote by Rubin, who said, “Anyone who calls us the Chicago Seven is a racist. Because you’re discrediting Bobby Seale. You can call us the Chicago Eight, but really we’re the Chicago 10, because our two lawyers went down with us.”

The trial resulted in five of the seven convicted for inciting riots. All were acquitted of conspiracy, but sentenced to lengthy jail terms for contempt of court. Later, the contempt charges were reversed, and all of the convictions for inciting riots were overturned.

The film blends interviews with narration, and archival footage with animation. The film moves back and forth from the streets of Chicago to the courtroom, merging the past and present.

Animated segments are voiced by actors Hank Azaria, Mark Ruffalo, Jeffrey Wright, Roy Scheider, Liev Schreiber and Nick Nolte.