Steve McQueen’s award-winning film 12 Years a Slave covered an aspect of American slavery not often shown on film: black people who are born free in the North getting kidnapped and sold as slaves in the South. Writer/director/editor, Chris Eska’s independent film The Retrieval shines a light on another unsettling occurrence: black people helping whites recapture escaped slaves.
The official plot summary for The Retrieval reads:
1864: as war ravages the nation, on the outskirts of the Civil War business as usual continues for slave-owners and traders. The Retrieval follows Will, a fatherless 13 year-old boy, who survives by working with a white bounty hunter gang who sends him to earn the trust of runaway slaves in order to lure them back to the South.
On a dangerous mission into the free North to find Nate, a fugitive freedman, things go wrong and Will and Nate find themselves on the run. As the bond between them unexpectedly grows, Will becomes consumed by conflicting emotions as he faces a gut-wrenching final decision.
Thrilling, but grounded in historical research, The Retrieval serves as an insight into the grey period between slavery and freedom and the horrific moral dilemma that comes with being forced to betray your fellow man.
Currently going through a limited theatrical run, and set to screen at the Ozark Film Festival and the Southern Circuit Tour, The Retrieval has already taken home numerous awards including Best Director at the Phoenix Film Festival, and the Special Jury Prize for Acting at SXSW.
Twitchfilm has released a stirring clip from the movie.