A conversation with my roommate led to me checking out this controversial Italian film shot in the early 70’s called Addio Zio Tom or Goodbye Uncle Tom in English. Italian filmmakers Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi created a post slavery documentary on the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the evolution of slavery in southern United States by reenacting images scribed from letters written during those times. The filmmakers received harsh criticisms when the film was first released in 1971 because of it’s obscene portrayals of both the Black and White characters and it’s stance on how slavery affected the then current community of Black Americans. I can see how Addio Zio Tom presented an issue to audiences in the 1970’s, but this film still means so much in contemporary times.
I must say that watching the film was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. Since the filmmakers were Italian, one gets the sense that there was nothing to hide. Just about every line is drawn from the cruel treatment and exploitation of the Black slaves to any problem plaguing people of color even to this day. The film is brutally honest. Black Americans should never get enough of researching our past in this country so that we may instill a universal pride in how far we’ve gotten and a true understanding of how far we still have to go. In fact, Black people across the spectrum should never tire of the diaspora so that we all may fully recognize that although we are different culturally, we share a common ancestor and history that should never be overlooked, underestimated, forgotten, nor die. Check out the trailer for Addio Zio Tom below and make sure you get your hands on a copy of this film. It is on Netflix. One Love