New Yorker putting local slave revolt on film

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2011

By Baileigh Rebowe


LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish has become a mini Hollywood recently, hosting dozens of films and television shows and catering to movie stars. Now St. Charles Parish will get its share of the spotlight as the two parishes will soon serve as the filming locations for a movie about the 1811 Slave Revolt, which took place in the area more than 200 years ago.

New York filmmaker Anthony Hampton said he hopes to start filming the movie in October and will be casting more than 100 extras from the area.

Hampton also plans to donate a portion of the film’s profits toward education on the 1811 Slave Revolt.

He said he wants the film, which will be his first feature, to bring awareness to the revolt and bring a sense of dignity to the communities where it happened. He said it is sad how little is actually known about the rebellion.

“It was the largest slave revolt in history, and I didn’t get taught about it in school,” said Hampton. ”This revolt wasn’t some simplistic thing but was grand in ambition. The audacity these rebels had to try to create their own free republic is amazing. For residents in these communities and all over to not know much about it is a tragedy.”

Hampton, whose films focus on “freedom more than history,” said he has been researching the revolt since 2007 and was fascinated with the courage of the rebels and their quest to be free.

Charles Deslondes, a laborer at Col. Manuel Andry’s plantation in present-day LaPlace, led the revolt.

On Jan. 8, 1811, Deslondes led more than 300 slaves armed with knives, hoes, clubs and guns down River Road toward New Orleans. They flew flags and beat on drums declaring “freedom or death.” Eventually they were gunned down, and 95 slaves, including Deslondes, were executed. Their brave efforts gave hope to the African American people of the South at that time.

“What happened that day is incredibly important to this community,” said Hampton. “Some residents are most probably direct descendents of the rebels.”

Most of the movie will be shot in St. John and St. Charles parishes, according to Hampton.

Shooting will span about eight weeks, and some scenes will be filmed in New Orleans.

Hampton is currently seeking funding for the film, finalizing the script and casting major roles.

He recently won second place at the Queens World Film Festival in New York for his experimental film “Sillage.”