Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North tells the story of first-time filmmaker Katrina Browne’s troubling discovery that her New England ancestors were the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. She and nine fellow DeWolf descendants set off to retrace the Triangle Trade: from their old hometown in Rhode Island to slave forts in Ghana to sugar plantation ruins in Cuba. Step by step, they uncover the vast extent of Northern involvement in slavery while stumbling through the minefield of contemporary race relations. An Official Selection of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Traces of the Trade had is national broadcast premiere on PBS’ acclaimed independent documentary film series P.O.V. (Point of View).
Ebb Pod hired Borderline Media in April 2008 to develop and build awareness for Traces of the Trade’s national outreach campaign, which would augment and extend the reach of the press and publicity work of P.O.V. Working in close collaboration with Ebb Pod and P.O.V., Borderline Media planned and coordinated targeted screenings in six major markets leading up to the national television broadcast on PBS. Some highlights include:
Following the broadcast in June 2008, Borderline Media launched a larger, multi-faceted grassroots outreach campaign. Through film festivals and special events, university, college and high school screenings, educational and professional conferences, museums and historic sites, churches and dioceses, as well as programming partnerships, Traces of the Trade and the accompanying memoir Inheriting the Trade by author Tom DeWolf, were featured at over 175 venues – surpassing Ebb Pod’s goals for screenings nationwide. Some key outreach and programming partners include:
Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities commemorated the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade with Massachusetts and the Economy of Slavery, a series of public programs at various historic sites around the state that paired Traces of the Trade with archival and other historical materials to stimulate discussion about the centrality of the business of slavery to the Massachusetts economy in the period between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars;
Grantmakers in Film + Electronic Media presented workshops around Traces of the Trade at the 2008 Council on Foundations Philanthropy Leadership Conference and the 2009 Council on Foundations Family Philanthropy Conference. In partnership with Resource Generation, GFEM also presented a Traces of the Trade workshop at the 2008 Making Money Make Change Retreat. GFEM and the Council on Foundations awarded Traces of the Trade with the 2009 Henry Hampton Award, and featured the film as part of the 2009 Council on Foundations Film & Video Festival;
The Fetzer Institute, in partnership with seven public television stations and their local community partners, featured Traces of the Trade as part of its Campaign for Love and Forgiveness, a national dialogue that encourages reflection and conversation about how love and forgiveness can effect meaningful change in individuals and society; and
The Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Allies for Racial Equity developed a companion discussion guide for use with Traces of the Trade to help implement the truth and reconciliation responsive resolution that passed at their General Assembly in June 2007. Six district conferences took part in a pilot program of film screenings with facilitated dialogue in the spring and summer 2008. Plans to roll out the program to 100 UU congregations are currently in development.
In addition, Borderline Media significantly expanded Traces of the Trade’s outreach to the educational sector beyond the target goals for educational and public history conferences. Over forty screenings of Traces of the Trade were held at universities, colleges, high schools and junior high schools for the 2008-9 academic year. Some highlights include:
Borderline Media also made inroads for Traces of the Trade on the film festival circuit. After the film’s world premiere at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, it was accepted into another twenty festivals or markets including the New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival, Hot Docs Doc Shop, the Cambridge Film Festival in the UK, IDFA Docs for Sale in the Netherlands, the 17th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival, and the 2009 American Documentary Showcase.
For a full list of screenings and events visit www.tracesofthetrade.org.
Major partners include: P.O.V., California Newsreel, Grantmakers in Film + Electronic Media, The Fetzer Institute, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Rhode Island for Community and Justice, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Allies for Racial Equity, and the Episcopal Diocese of New York Reparations Committee.
“A far-reaching personal documentary examination of the slave trade. . . . The implications of the film are devastating.” – Stephen Holden, The New York Times
“Powerful is an inadequate word to describe the impact of Katrina Browne’s Traces of the Trade. [Her] clear-headed film represents an intense and searing call for national dialogue.” – Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter