“The Black Line,” a documentary featuring Cayman Olympic swimmers, brothers Brett and Shaune Fraser, will be screened this weekend at the CayFilm International Film Festival. Shaune Fraser is also the film’s co-executive producer.
Filmmakers Joshua Bratter and Stan Jakubowicz will be in Cayman to talk about the making of the documentary during the festival, which runs from July 1-4.
The movie takes viewers on a journey from the West African pearl divers of the 1700s, through the 1800s “Jim Crow” segregation era in the United States, and the stratification of U.S. swimming, to the indigenous athletic tradition of the Caribbean swimmers, to the epidemic drowning levels in African-American communities, according to the film’s website, www.theblacklinemovie.com.
Bratter says that while he is not an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, swimmer or a black man, he has always been interested in contradictions.
“How come black people don’t swim? Why is drowning the number one cause of death in African-American children under the age of 7? How did a people, who lived in the coastal communities of Africa, live on island nations in the Caribbean, and seem to excel in most other athletic forms, arrive at a moment in time, when drowning is considered a national epidemic? Not child diabetes, not HIV, not drug addiction … drowning. The inability to swim.”
Bratter says the movie is a broad analysis of the origins of the myth that “black men don’t swim” and that the idea for the film originated from an extended conversation with his friend Shaune Fraser.
“‘The Black Line’ is the historical narrative of a people whose enigmatic relationship with water is more than a story about a sport; it’s a story about humanity – our failings, triumphs and hopes with a brotherhood and sisterhood behind it; shouting, pushing and swimming for the future of this sport, this country, this humanity,” he said.
Other Olympic swimmers featured in the film include Rowdy Gaines (USA), Roy-Allan Burch (Bermuda), Jamie Peterkin (St. Lucia), Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (Bahamas), and Alia Atkinson (Jamaica).
‘The Black Line’ will be shown on Sunday, July 3, at 6 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. Rita Estevanovich will moderate a question and answer session after the screening.
Festival Director Tony Mark says “The Black Line” is just one of many compelling films that will be shown at the festival. Some 200 films from more than 50 countries will be screened, in addition to workshops and panels conducted by some of the top industry professionals in Hollywood.
Notable films include:
“Island Dreams” – a short documentary about a rag-tag group of soccer players who became the first team to represent the Bahamas on an international stage.
“Counter Histories: Rock Hill” – a feature documentary about the men who stood up for their rights at the counter of the Rock Hill, South Carolina, Five and Dime store. They asked for a cup of coffee and were instead met with violence, police brutality and unjust imprisonment.
“Gods In Shackles” – a feature documentary exposé revealing the dark side of the southern Indian state of Kerala’s glamorous cultural festivals that exploit temple elephants for profit under the guise of culture and religion.
“SMART” – a feature-length documentary about a group of highly trained, adrenaline-fueled professionals who risk life and limb to rescue animals. They are Los Angeles’s Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team, and they save anything and everything, wild or domestic, from an array of dangerous situations.
“Tell The Children The Truth” – a 50-minute Jamaican documentary that intends to provoke a broad discussion of what it means to be a parent. A music-driven, soul-searching inquiry into life experiences and the effects of various upbringings.