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Tag: Hollywood

Celebrating the life of an ancestor who was a “12 Years A Slave”

This past summer, Vera Williams attended her annual family reunion and Solomon Northup Day. The day honors her great-great-great grandfather, Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and forced into slavery in 1841. When Northup escaped, he wrote a book about his experiences and—most shockingly for that era—took his kidnappers to trial. The book was recently made into the movie 12 Years A Slave.

Solomon Northup Day was founded by Rene Moore, a local citizen of Saratoga Springs, NY, and has been celebrated for the past 15 years. Williams has helped organize family attendance to the events and manages a Facebook page for Solomon Northup Family and Friends. Relatives come together from across the country—including Williams’s own mother, who was honored this year as Northup’s oldest living descendant.

This year, the attendees included film executives, actress Lupita Nyong’o, and other representatives from the movie 12 Years A Slave. Moore had contacted Fox Searchlight Pictures to tell them about the annual celebration, and in turn the film company reached out to Williams to let her know they were doing screenings around country.

Guests at the Solomon Northup Day celebration in July were shown a trailer of the movie and comments from various people associated with the film including director Steve McQueen. Williams had the opportunity to speak with Nyong’o about her experience playing … [ Read all ]

George Clooney and the National Archives: One degree of separation

Today’s guest post was written by Miriam Kleiman, who works in the National Archives Public Affairs Office.

George Clooney’s next film—which he will write, direct, and star in—is based on holdings from the National Archives! 

Clooney announced last weekend that his number-one priority is to make a film about the “Monuments Men,” a group of cultural scholars and historians who donned Army uniforms to serve the Allies by rescuing, identifying, and trying to return precious artworks looted by Adolf Hitler.

Clooney shared with the press that while the Monuments Men were not trained for combat, they did face live fire and even had to give orders. He offered a possible example: “Don’t aim your tank over there, that’s the Leaning Tower of Pisa!” And it will be a big-budget film, not a small artsy one.

Clooney is now working on the screenplay. The movie will be an adaptation of Robert Edsel’s 2009 book, The Monuments MenAllied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.

Edsel is no stranger to the National Archives. His work is largely based on National Archives records, including those of the Office of Strategic Services Art Looting Unit, images from the U.S. Army Signal Corps, and records of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives branch of the Office of Military Government, U.S. Zone (Germany).

In Monuments Men, Edsel praises … [ Read all ]