NAT TURNER: A Troublesome Property

Slave Rebellions

The Filmmakers

The filmmakers on the set of NAT TURNER: A Troublesome Property.
(L-R) Charles Burnett, Frank Christopher and
Kenneth Greenberg
Charles Burnett

Film critics have called Burnett "the nation's least-known great filmmaker and most gifted black director." Burnett's debut film, Killer of Sheep, on which he served as producer, director, writer, editor, cinematographer and actor, was selected by the Library of Congress to be among the first 50 films to be included in the National Film Registry. In 1983, the Vicksburg, Mississippi native wrote, directed and produced his next feature, My Brother's Wedding, centering on the theme of envy and its power to warp families. Burnett's themes of family continued to influence his work: In 1990, he wrote and directed the drama To Sleep with Anger, which starred Danny Glover as a charming friend who insinuates himself into a troubled family. Burnett’s next film, The Glass Shield, was a police drama based on a true story of corruption and racism within the Los Angeles police force. Burnett followed with his television debut via the acclaimed 1996 Disney Channel film Nightjohn, a period piece about a slave’s risky attempt to teach an orphan slave girl to read and write. The New Yorker's film critic Terrence Rafferty called Nightjohn the "best American movie of 1996."

Burnett's other television work includes the 1997 ABC miniseries Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding; the 1998 ABC telepic Selma, Lord, Selma; America Becoming, a documentary about U.S. immigration; the 1998 Showtime film Long Distance; and the 2000 Showtime film Finding Buck McHenry, starring Ossie Davis. In 1997, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival honored Burnett with a retrospective of his work. Burnett is also the recipient of a 1988 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. A one-time trumpet player, he vividly remembers making his way through the seminal blues tunes of W.C. Handy. His most recent film, Warming By the Devil's Fire, was shown on PBS in the seven-part series The Blues, from executive producer Martin Scorcese.

Frank Christopher

An award-winning producer, director, writer and editor, Christopher has been making documentaries since 1970. Included among the many awards garnered by his films and television programs are: an Academy Award Nomination for Best Feature Length Documentary, six Emmys, two CINE Golden Eagle Awards, the Blue Ribbon Award from the American Film Festival, the Gold and Silver Awards from the Houston International Festival, the Grand Coral First Prize from the New Latin American Cinema, the Outstanding Documentary Award from the National Latino Film and Video Festival and the Director's Choice Award from the Thomas Edison–Black Maria Film and Video Festival.

In 1996, Christopher conceived of the idea for NAT TURNER: A TROUBLESOME PROPERTY after reading William Styron's novel The Confessions of Nat Turner. He subsequently assembled the film’s creative team to tackle the complexity of presenting the multiple interpretations of the story of Nat Turner to a national television audience. Currently, Christopher is the executive producer of Remaking American Medicine, a four-part series on the transformation of American health care to be broadcast on PBS in 2005.

Kenneth S. Greenberg

Greenberg is distinguished professor of history and chair of the history department at Suffolk University in Boston. He is one of the nation's most respected historians of slavery and the South. He holds degrees from Cornell University, Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin; has received numerous grants, including two from the National Endowment for the Humanities; and has been a fellow at Harvard University's Charles Warren Center and a fellow in law and history at Harvard Law School.

Greenberg's first book, Masters and Statesmen: The Political Culture of American Slavery was described by reviewers as "brilliant," "ambitious," "innovative," "compelling," "insightful" and "fascinating." His second book, Honor and Slavery: Lies, Duels, Noses, Masks, Dressing as a Woman, Gifts, Strangers, Humanitarianism, Death, Slave Rebellions, the Proslavery Argument, Baseball, Hunting, and Gambling in the Old South has been widely praised by scholars for both its substance and style. During the past few years, Greenberg has become the preeminent historian of Nat Turner and the slave rebellion of 1831. He is the editor and has written the authoritative introduction to the original Confessions of Nat Turner and Related Documents. Most recently, he has written and published a collection of significant new historical essays on Nat Turner in Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory, published in 2003 by Oxford University Press. This volume also includes complete text versions of the filmed interviews of Dr. Alvin Poussaint and William Styron, short excerpts of which appear in the film.

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