directed by Loria King


produced by Pam Smith

About this film

At a time of significant pushback on the teaching of "whole truth" history in our schools ​and book banning throughout the country, this timely film explores the question: Why is ​it important to tell the truth about history? With a focus on Virginia, Part I of this ​docuseries shot in Richmond, Charlottesville and Arlington includes commentary by ​local artists, teachers, students, librarians, historians, family historians, faith leaders, ​social justice advocates, and others. We ride the rivers and walk the land that brought ​enslaved people to the shores of Virginia and to the places of their bondage and ​resistance. And we explore the legacies of enslavement

and what it will take for our country to repair and heal.


The documentary's ancestral guiding light is Matilda (Lewis) Threlkeld,

the enslaved 3rd great grandmother of the film's producer.

Both the film's director (Loria King) and producer (Pam Smith)

are descendants of people enslaved by

Thomas Jefferson and his sister, Lucy Jefferson Lewis.









I first learned about Matilda in the process of family history ​research in Kentucky. I was referred to Don Hodge, an 80-year-​old white genealogist, by a researcher at the Crittenden County ​Public Library. After looking at my research, Don remarked, "Well ​Pam, I think you have Jefferson's blood running through you!" But ​it was the Lewises I most wanted to learn about because they ​were Matilda's enslavers. Lucy Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson's ​younger sister, had married Charles Lewis (a relative of the ​Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition) and Matilda ​was born of sexual exploitation by their son, Charles.


Pam Smith





Part II of this film traces the footsteps of

Matilda (Lewis) Threlkeld, as the white Lewis family ​moves west to Kentucky in 1808, taking 24 enslaved ​people with them, including nine-year-old Matilda.

The documentary explores her harrowing journey west

as a child, overland and via the Ohio River,

her experiences at the intersections of major US ​episodes, such as the Civil War & Reconstruction,

and current controversies in historical truth-telling.

It visits classrooms, communities

and ancestral homelands.









What is historical truth-telling?


1. Teaching the truth about history in our schools

2. Storytelling based on oral histories, archival records,

genealogy & archaeology

3. Addressing book banning (in schools & libraries)

4. Holding family reunions & celebrating African American

culture, traditions & contributions to this country

5. Memorials, public art, restorations & reparative & healing spaces

6. Commissions & campaigns focused on repair & healing

7. “Linked Descendant” initiatives like in Coming to the Table

8. Research & documentation about the legacies of enslavement

9. Sharing facts and stories exposing vote suppression

10. Creative works such as writing, films, etc.

that expose and illuminate hidden histories

11. Truthful & inclusive interpretation at historic sites







Who is this film for?


Students age 8 & up

Teacher trainings

Libraries & historical societies

Racial dialogues

Family historians, genealogists & researchers

Social justice artists & activists

Restorative justice projects

Officials making policy


And anyone with an interest in history & truth.









Who we are

Pam Smith, producer, is a historian, genealogist and independent researcher for historic sites. A native Chicagoan, her ancestral ​roots stretch from Virginia to Kentucky, Missouri, Cameroon & Sierra Leone. Pam has a passion for unearthing buried African ​American stories. Her recent projects include: the Dwelling of Enslaved Africans at Richmond Hill, the New Ohio River Museum, the ​Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati, and the Illinois Underground Railroad. Previously, with the 106 Group, Pam served as ​research consultant for Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest Plantation in Bedford County. Earlier in her career, she taught elementary ​school in Africa and worked as senior press aide to Rev. Jesse Jackson in his 1988 presidential bid and to Barack Obama in his ​primary campaign for the US Senate. Pam is a certified Kingian Nonviolence trainer and co-editor of The Chicago Freedom ​Movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Activism in the North. Matilda (Lewis) Threlkeld, a subject of this film, is her 3rd ​great grandmother.




Loria King, director, is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker and photographer with a focus on nuanced stories ​involving race, gender, culture, and ethnicity. She earned her M.F.A. in film from Columbia University and began her filmmaking ​journey as an intern with Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks. Currently, she serves on the advisory board for the Global Institute for ​Black Girls in Film & Media and as a Changemaker for Black Stock Footage. Her most recent project, "Black America Is…,” that explores ​Black identity, was selected as part of the 2020 Film Independent/CNN Docuseries Intensive and won Best Documentary Feature at ​the Baltimore African American film festival in 2023. Loria's passion for her craft led her to share her real-world experience with ​students as a film professor. She has also taught filmmaking outside the classroom in Africa, Asia, and South America. Loria is ​currently directing CURRENT: A Descendant’s Journey for Truth, a documentary that delves into the critical theme of historical truth-​telling. This project is a significant part of her mission to challenge and examine false narratives regarding women, BIPOC (Black, ​Indigenous, and People of Color) and their experiences.




Be a historical truth-teller. Consider investing in our ​educational film. Thank you!

Our talented crew


Being the oldest child, Kerry Adams, ​Cinematographer, was a naturally born ​leader for his siblings and often convinced ​them to make movies and music with him. ​Growing up in church, Kerry quickly ​became a fixture of the worship team, and ​even the technical side of live production ​became his forte. He started making short ​films in middle school, signed with a ​Christian publishing group as a teenager ​and was among the first wave of self-​taught engineers and producers that now ​call themselves content creators, ​accumulating hundreds of thousands of ​views. With 7 albums under his belt as a ​music producer, he now turns his focus on ​filmmaking and storytelling. Visit “Song is ​Born Podcast.”




From an early age, Beau Skonzieczny, ​Director of Photography, has been a ​drummer and a tech-geek with an ​incessant fascination with the latest ​technologies and gadgets. He worked ​in market research and business ​intelligence as a Senior Analyst and ​Project Manager within the computing ​and mobile device space. After moving ​to Florida, Beau searched for fellow ​local musicians, eventually meeting ​Kerry Adams which led to recording a ​new album, sharing a strong interest in ​audio and video production, forming ​Gear-Age Media and creating the ​“Song is Born Podcast.”



Nya Wilson, Production ​Assistant, is a Virginia ​Commonwealth University film ​student with a passion for ​cinematography and writing. She ​has a deep interest in African-​American history and therefore, ​African-American stories. In her ​own work, she hopes to portray ​black-centered narratives and aid ​in the production of such ​content".

Composed of people from diverse backgrounds & perspectives

Maddy Wade, Production Assistant, ​is a queer filmmaker with a passion ​for sharing untold stories. This ​passion brought her to “Current” ​where she is ecstatic to collaborate ​on how best to tell Matilda’s story, as ​well as dig into her own family history ​along the way. An avid ​cinematographer, Maddy is always ​learning from and in awe of the visual ​world around her.



K



Our talented musicians


Adam Jones

Gary Luong

Adam Jones is a multi-instrumentalist, ​songwriter and composer in his senior year at ​VCU. He has a background in Classical music, ​Jazz and has won an award from the National ​Theater Wing for theater songwriting. Current ​is a film he can personally relate to, having ​recently discovered his own ancestry of ​influential Black freedmen, business owners ​and government officials in North Carolina ​dating back through 1700. Regardless of genre, ​scoring films that facilitate cultural dialogue is ​something that he is passionate about.

Add a little bit of body text

Gary Luong is an independent singer-​songwriter, music producer and composer ​based in Richmond, Virginia. Beginning his ​journey as a graduate researching cancer ​therapy, he discovered his calling to music ​late in life, drawing parallels to the healing ​nature of sound. Since then, he has worked ​closely with local artists and filmmakers, ​gradually honing his craft to help bring ​visions to reality.


Featuring


Prof. Ed Ayers – New American History

Tom Chapman – Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society

Lorenzo Dickerson – Maupintown Media

Rev. Lindsey Franklin – Richmond Hill

Trenton Hizer – Library of Virginia

Thane Harpole – Fairfield Foundation

Rev. Dr. Lisa Johnson – Richmond Hill

Leslie M. Scott-Jones – Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, Charlottesville

Diane Kresh – Arlington Public Library

Dr. Shelley Viola Murphy – University of Virginia Descendant Project Researcher

Jenna Owens – Getting Word African American Oral History Project at Monticello

Rev. Dr. Paula Parker – Roots Matter LLC

Archaeologist Tim Roberts – Black Star Cultural Resources

Danita Rountree Green – Coming Together Virginia

Rev. Herbert Townes, Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, Midlothian

Prof. Marisa Williamson & her University of Virginia students

Rev. Daniel Willson – Richmond Hill

Production Schedule

TENTATIVE PRODUCTION SCHEDULE


CURRENT: Matilda’s American Journey West


2023


August-October: PRE-PRODUCTION for Charlottesville


October: CHARLOTTESVILLE SHOOT LOCATION #1


November-December: POST PRODUCTION


2024


January-March: PRE-PRODUCTION for Kentucky


May-KENTUCKY SHOOT LOCATION #3


May-June: POST PRODUCTION


June: SIERRA LEONE, WEST AFRICA


DISTRIBUTION



Invest in

historical truth-telling.

Thank you!



Virginia shoot (October 2023)


Kentucky shoot (May 2024)


Sierra Leone shoot (2024)















gofundme

https://www.gofundme.com/f/truthiscurrent

Contact us

Pam Smith, Producer

Loria King, Director

currentfilm2024@gmail.com

312-719-3740 cell







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What history do you carry?

Check out our upcoming film ​preview screenings below!