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Finding Family: A Story of Slavery, Separation and Reunification recounts the story of a recent African immigrant to the United States who makes the unexpected discovery through DNA that he has hundreds of African American relatives, and embarks with several of them on a journey of hope and reunification to identify their common ancestor. Reuniting with a living relative from Africa, let alone someone as closely related as a fourth cousin, is a concept that generations of African Americans thought unimaginable, in part because the trauma inflicted by slavery so severed their physical, emotional and psychological ties to their culture, continent, and families of origin.
Finding Family is an observational documentary in which the audience will follow filmmaker Zadi Zokou and his new-found cousins as they search for clues about their common ancestor with the help of a genealogist and historians specializing in African American and African history. Their journey will span the US to Africa, leading to places where their ancestor possibly lived. Finding Family will appeal to anyone who has wondered about their own family story, particularly those from the African Diaspora, and will hopefully inspire Africans and African Americans to reach out to one another, despite 400 years of pain and separation.
Antony Zokou Silvere (Zadi Zokou) (Director of Finding Family) has worked in movies for over 20 years and is trained in both screenwriting and the technical aspects of film and audio-visual production in his own country of Cote d’Ivoire, as well as in Burkina-Faso, Tunisia, France, Canada and Japan. He has written screenplays for several internationally-funded feature-length dramatic films that were screened throughout the West Africa region to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. Since moving to the US in 2005, Zadi has produced several documentaries, including: Eliza My Songbird (A Documentary About Autism,); Praying Town, a feature-length documentary on the history of Native Americans and enslaved African Americans of Southern New England; and Black N Black, his 2018 documentary, which examines the relationships between African Americans and African Immigrants to the US. Black N Black is currently screening at festivals and universities in the United States and will make its international debut in Paris, France in September 2019.
Karen Ryder (Producer of Finding Family) has more than two decades of experience managing complex government-funded projects in Africa, as a global health professional. She has lived in Senegal, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ghana, and she has traveled for work to many more African countries. She met Zadi Zokou while she was a Peace Corps volunteer in his home country of Cote d’Ivoire, where she won a grant from UNICEF and produced a traveling theatrical presentation to sensitize Ivorian villagers about childhood immunizations. Karen has often contributed to Zadi’s film work, particularly in writing, narration editing, and reviewing and giving feedback on rough cuts. In the last few years she’s taken on an increasingly important role in Zadi’s films and was the Executive Producer and Narration Editor for Zadi’s most recent documentary, Black N Black.