African-American artists whose subject is the legacy of slavery are profiled in S. Pearl Sharp’s “The Healing Passage.” Ten years in the making, episodic docu provides an interesting, sometimes inspiring discussion tool that should be attractive to educational broadcasters and classroom outlets.
Taking a cue from Martin Luther King’s statement “Honoring suffering can be redemptive,” creative types here commemorate the 350-year trade in human life that carried millions of Africans into slavery, primarily to the colonial Americas. (“Middle passage” refers to the lengthy, often fatal voyage endured across the Atlantic by terrified Africans.) Artistic efforts encompass every imaginable media, from sculpture to dance to participatory rituals with handcrafted dolls. Sharp includes herself in survey, as she recites original dramatic texts to live music. Scholars are consulted to offer some historical background; related issues touched on include that of petitioning the government for reparations, and how slavery might have created a genetic trauma passed on to ensuing generations. Package is well-turned in technical terms, though somewhat monotonous pacing from one segment to the next makes it ideally viewed in smaller increments.