Akwantu: The Journey

One of the films you might not hear about at Sundance this year is a history of the Maroons of Jamaica, a small slave population that uprose against their British masters in the 18th century and secured their independence in a treaty that predates both the American and French Revolutions. The film is called Akwantu: The Journey, and it comes to the screen courtesy of filmmaker Roy Anderson, who has worked extensively as a stunt coordinator in Hollywood, and whose ancestors were Maroons.

The Maroons are not widely known beyond academia, but their history offers a fascinating glimpse into a culture transported to the Americas from Ghana via the 17th and 18th century slave trade. Much of Akwantu: The Journey centers on Roy’s own journey through both his family history and the deeper and more obscure tale of the Maroons from their African roots to the present. It’s a good story.

Roy initially approached Pie a la Mode Productions to design a handful of the maps used in the movie (some of which you can see here). After that initial engagement was completed, and following a test screening of the movie in New Jersey last summer, Roy called Pie a la Mode again to do some further work cleaning up some of the images, reconstituting some of the additional maps, and designing the end titles.

Just like that, Pie a la Mode is in the movies.

Akwantu - Trade Route Map

Map of Trade Routes - click to enlarge

Akwantu - Jamaica Map

Map of Jamaica - click to enlarge

Akwantu - Maroon Treaty

Maroon Treaty - click to enlarge

A good deal of Pie a la Mode’s work on this project was cleaning up, restoring, and reconstituting images. Since demonstrating that requires a slightly wider column than the blog (who designed this thing, anyway?), some links to comparison images are included as follows:

  • Trade Routes – reconstituted map
  • Amazing Grace – reconstituted image, background texture
  • Maroon Treaty – reconstituted image, background texture
  • Captain Cudjoe – image enhancement, background deletion
  • The next stop for Akwantu: The Journey was a preview screening in Jamaica last December, to be followed by an official release in June 2012. For more details, stay tuned here, or head over to Akwantu: The Journey’s Facebook page.

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