Documentary uncovers complex history between African-Americans and Africans

Bound: Africans vs. African Americans is not only a hard hitting documentary that tells the story of tension that exists between Africans and African-Americans, but it is also a film aimed at kick-starting a needed conversation about human history.

And if a recent screening of the film during the Toronto Black Film Festival (TBFF) is any indication, Bound achieves its goal. Discussions following the screening prove for many, the film is a real eye opening experience to some of the ideologies and discrimination that occurs between the two groups.

Director Peres Owino says she was inspired to make the film after migrating to Los Angeles and hearing all the negative things mainstream society would say about African-Americans and the damaging things African-Americans would say about Africans.

“At some point all those negative stereotypes you hear about people of colour in [the United States], if you don’t engage people of colour, then you begin to believe all the nonsense that people say about them, even when you, yourself are a minority.” – Director Peres Owino

“‘I’m not African, you people sold us,’” says Owino, recalling what a friend of hers said to her. She adds, “At some point all those negative stereotypes you hear about people of colour in [the United States], if you don’t engage people of colour, then you begin to believe all the nonsense that people say about them, even when you, yourself are a minority.”

Those thoughts become a common theme throughout the film – brotherhood, family and shared bloodlines are all things covered. Certainly there are differences that divide Black people apart, but the similarities should not be forgotten or ignored. In the film there is a roundtable discussion between a group of African-Americans and Africans who have migrated to the U.S.; as they each share their testimonies and discuss the history of their people they come to realize what both groups lack is a clear understanding of the other’s history.

For Owino, she says she started out with a clear understanding of what she wanted the documentary to be about and took a unique approach to get it that way. Where most films are filtered down, Bound is very raw. The exchange between the group of African-Americans and Africans in the film gets intense at times and even in the theatre people are heard agreeing with certain points, while rejecting others.

“It was raw, it was honest and I believe that we got a better understanding with our African brothers and sisters on how much we are related.” – Damon Allen, former Toronto Argos quarterback

“I just put the mic on and let people talk, because I was very clear of one thing, there is a documentary that I wanted to tell and there is a documentary that wants to be told and it became about listening to the story that wanted to be told,” explains Owino.

One of the people in attendance during the TBFF screening is former Toronto Argos quarterback and member of the CFL Hall of Fame, Damon Allen, who has spent time researching his own family history and roots.

“It was raw, it was honest and I believe that we got a better understanding with our African brothers and sisters on how much we are related,” says Allen.

Owino hopes the film will encourage people to take a look at their own history and figure out what their story is. She says the onus falls on each individual person: “That requires [time to] sit down with yourself and know your own story.” She would like to see other cultural groups have the same type of discussions and come together to understand human history so that one day, the film’s title could evolve to read Bound: Humans.

Words By. Patrick Dennis Jr.