Jude Ray's Contributions to Traces of the Trade: A Story of the Deep North
“Traces of the Trade” will be featured at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, competing in the dramatic features main competition.
Jude Ray's contributions as one of the film's co-directors and as executive producer were integral in helping shape the film's scope and the impact it has had on audiences, the family featured, and almost everyone who took part in its development. Ms. Ray is proud to have been a part of telling such an amazing story and in helping this family examine its difficult past and come to terms with its responsibilities in the present.
Expanding the Film's Scope
Over 200 letters were sent to Katrina’s relatives, inviting them to take part in “Traces of the Trade.” Nine responded. Those nine and Katrina make up the ten family members featured in the film. Expanding the scope of the film not only allowed the filmmakers to capture more of the story, but created instant appeal to a wider audience by broadening the perspectives that would be shared. The ten family members were between 32 and 71 years-old. Some had never met one another. They came from all walks of life and brought different racial and familial issues to the table. The range of personalities and experiences brought to the film by the “Family of Ten” encourages audiences to make a more personal connection to the story.
Presenting an External Perspective
When a filmmaker sets out to make a film about his or her own family, he/she is faced with the challenge of being "too close" to the subject matter. As if delving into her family's history wasn't emotionally exhausting on its own, Katrina was also trying to film a documentary on it, a task made even more daunting by the fact that she had never made a film before.
With Jude serving as co-director and executive producer, Katrina was able to absorb and experience the journey as a family member – not just as a director. Katrina did not have to devote as much energy to the emotional strain the experience had on her and her relatives. Jude was able to step in as an "outsider" who viewed the journey as a film in the making. Though she was certainly profoundly moved and affected by their stories, she was in no way conflicted by the powerful emotions that each day's filming inspired.
Fostering Comfort to Family Members (interviews)
One of Jude's most powerful traits as a filmmaker is her skill as an interviewer. There aren't that many people who can sit down with a veritable stranger and ask deeply personal (oft times painful) questions - and get honest answers! In order to capture the truth of “Traces of the Trade,” the filmmakers had to extract from family members their raw responses to the physical journey (traveling the Triangle Trade and actually seeing the slave cages) and the emotional toll it took on them. When family members wanted to give up, Jude would not allow it.
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