[image-1] This spring, the Middleton Place Foundation hopes to release a new documentary, Beyond the Fields — Slavery at Middleton Place. The film is expected to expand upon the plantation’s long-practiced interpretation, one that illuminates the lives of the enslaved African Americans who toiled on Middleton’s land. Middleton Place currently offers a Beyond the Fields tour, based on a 2008 book of the same name, and they want to take the history of the plantation one step further with this documentary.
But they need your help. Middleton Place Foundation currently has a page up at Crowdrise asking for donations to the documentary, which it calls both an educational and artistic endeavor. The donation page reads, “This project is partially grant-funded, and the Middleton Place Foundation, a 501-c3 education trust, is looking to supplement that funding, in order to create a stunningly modern and adept look at this very important, and too-long ignored topic. Along with rare footage of documents, artifacts, and landscape that only Middleton Place can provide, the filmmakers have embarked on a journey to interview the most knowledgeable scholars in the field on the issues and history surrounding slavery in the south.” You can donate here.
This isn’t the first documentary about Middleton Place. In 2013 Middleton Place: A Phoenix Still Rising, premiered, celebrating the wildlife, gardens, and history of the plantation. Then director of marketing Warren Cobb said that he hoped that the video would inspire people to visit the historical landmark and “all it has to offer for visitors.” Needless to say, the 2013 documentary didn’t quite dive into Middleton Place’s history of enslaved peoples as Beyond the Fields hopes to.
A five minute Vimeo preview of Beyond the Fields offers a look at some of the documentary’s speakers, including guide and professor, and sometimes Middleton Place reenactor Ty Collins; author and historian Walter Edgar (find his podcast, Walter’s Edgar Journal here); professor, historian, and director of Suffolk University’s Black Studies Program, Robert Bellinger; author and founder of the Barbados & The Carolinas Legacy Foundation, Rhoda Green; founder of the Colour of Music Festival, Lee Pringle; and historian and author Karen Fields, who has written books like Lemon Swamp and Other Places: A Carolina Memoir.
The documentary opens with the very reason that Middleton Place is creating this historical film — the enslaved left very few artifacts and personal papers. Middleton Place Foundation, according to the film’s narrator, hopes to “make visible those who had been invisible.” As Bellinger says, “People want to think about slavery, as something that happened, people worked, but what they forget is that along with the physical labor the bodies brought, each body had a mind.”