“This film is an ambitious and imaginative attempt to explore the impact of the Amistad Mutiny and the repatriation of the brave Africans to their homes in Sierra Leone. It is of great interest to any student of slavery and the slave trade.”
— Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
“This is a remarkable document of historical research in action. Having written the definitive account of the 1839 Amistad rebellion and its reverberations, Marcus Rediker leads a team of intrepid scholars to Sierra Leone in search of the African side of the story. Tapping a deep well of local knowledge, they find a living history shaped by the experience of the rebels’ descendants, who reckon with an inheritance of war, slave trading, and colonialism. By approaching African history with evident respect for people’s knowledge — and an appreciation for their willingness to share it — Rediker and his team greatly expand our common living memory of resistance to enslavement.”
— Vincent Brown, author of The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery
“The ghosts of the Amistad haunt our world as surely as its banks hold the wealth of slave labors’ past. The documentarian, Tony Buba, and the historian, Marcus Rediker, have produced a film of people’s remembrancing of sublime social trauma and righteous adventure from the mangrove water commons of Sierra Leone, which finally yields the secrets of these warrior ghosts and the revenants of international finance. A fabulous and essential film!”
— Peter Linebaugh, author of Stop, Thief! Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (PM Press 2014)
I take this opportunity to expand on my post concerning Tony Buba at the Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival. I have almost all of Tony’s videos and of them I feel that “Ghosts of the Amistad” is his most important work. I say that only because of its scope and impact on world affairs. While nothing can eclipse his devotion and depiction of 15104 [Braddock, PA] in his work, our community pales in comparison to the impact of his bringing “Ghosts of Amistad” to us. After all our community basically is only important to those of us who have experienced the wealth of growing up here in spite of its imperfections. As important as our community is to us it is but a trifle in importance when compared to the scope and over-all world importance and impact as was the Amistad rebellion. An event which helped launch us into the American Civil War.
I marveled as I watched Tony and the other members of his team pursuing the passed down oral history of current generations. The current generation of those who made the rebellion. Nothing in Hollywood could have surpassed their adventure. Watching him and his team travel in canoes paddling in crocodile infested water in Sierra Leone with the ever present danger of their canoes capsizing was an experience in itself. The river’s water was only a few inches away from flowing into their canoes. If this had occurred their lives would have been in danger. The images of their travels were as spectacular as they were dangerous. It made pale the images of Indiana Jones for this was real and Indiana Jones was Hollywood. Not only was river travel marred with danger so was the travel over the narrow roads in the over grown jungle as well as their travels over worn out bridges seemingly on the verge of collapse under the weight of their vehicles.
In his early film “Lightning Over Braddock” Tony remarked that he felt comfort in being a big fish in a small pond, or words to that effect. I took that statement along with his many films about Braddock to mean that he was content to confine himself to Braddock and or Western Pennsylvania. Well he stepped out of his comfort zone with much success and great applause to direct the film “Ghosts of Amistad,” about one of the most important events in the history of not only America but the world itself.
He and his companions exploring and finding the infamous slave holding village of Lomboko is reminiscent of the famous true story and movie “Stanley and Livingstone.” The movie starred Spencer Tracy and Sir Cedric Hardwick. In creating this work Tony and his team have laid the groundwork for the next logical step in exploration, an exploration where an archeological dig is in order. A dig at the site of Lomboko to bring back buried artifacts from that infamous hell hole. I can’t wait to add “Ghosts of Amistad” to my collection.
— Facebook posting by Kenneth Eugene Brown, after viewing “Ghosts of Amistad” at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles February 7, 2015
History List, New Haven Museum