What to watch this week? Follow along the Instagram Stories of an 11 year old boy in West Africa, circa 1756. Yes, you read that right. Film studio, Stelo Stories, in partnership with the DuSable Museum have created an intimate and engaging window into the life of the boy who would grow to be a vital voice of Black History.
Equiano.Stories is a feature film created for presentation in Instagram Stories, based on the life and writings of Olaudah Equiano. In 1756, at age eleven, Equiano was kidnapped from his Igbo community and enslaved. After being traded several times, he was able to buy his freedom in 1766. He worked to abolish slavery in the British Empire, and part of that effort was the writing of a memoir: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.
Equiano.Stories brings the first chapters of his book to life, which are significant because they give a detailed account of complexities of life in the Igbo community before slavery. Presented in Instagram Stories, we experience this film as if Equiano had a smart-phone and was a social-media savvy kid of today. We get to see the family dynamics, art, culture and tradition of his community from a first-person view. So often these stories start with slavery, and here the creators make the choice to start the narrative well before Equiano is taken, giving us an intimate view of the humanity and dignity of his community. However, the film does not shy away from the difficult reality as the story moves into Equiano and his sister’s enslavement.
Equiano.Stories is a collaboration between DuSable Museum and film company, Stelo Stories, who began this new style of filmmaking with the impactful @eva.stories, which follow a young Jewish girl’s social-media as the Holocaust takes hold.
We highly recommend delving into Equiano’s world. An eleven-year-old boy with a cellphone in the 1700s might seem strange at first, but the story quickly becomes immersive, engaging, educational, and moving. The entire film can be viewed on the Instagram account @equiano.stories or follow the links through the DuSable Museum.