When Katrina invited me and eight other family members to join her for a journey through the triangle trade and the hidden history of the United States and slavery in 2001 I thought the film would be out in 2002. Since the film premieres on PBS in just over a week that prediction was clearly way off.

We subsequently filmed additional footage in 2002, 2004, and 2006. Katrina and Alla Kovgan were faced with editing well over 300 hours of footage. They edited and edited and revisited what already rested on the cutting room floor many times. And they edited some more. There must have been 15 different “sure” endings for the film. They showed it to people in the film industry and received input that sent them back to the editing suite. And they edited some more.

The result is that they revisited people and issues. They thought more deeply. They considered the subject of the legacy of slavery–and our journey–from many more perspectives. And they edited some more. The result is a film that falls into the category of a longitudinal documentary, one which allows its characters and story to develop over time and to mature; and they kept editing. They found a ‘voice’ for the film that wasn’t clear in 2001 or 2002. And they kept editing. When you see the film you’ll see the result of deep and sustained contemplation by my cousin Katrina and my friend Alla. I’m so proud of their work.

And if you want to understand more about longitudinal documentary filmmaking take a few minutes and read this article. It’s enlightening.