Experiencing Interruptions?

Invented Before You Were Born

We Can’t Hide From History.

White siblings, Jonathan and Rachel Knight, discover they are descendants of Kentucky slave holder Richard Bibb. Confronting this family history leads to meeting black descendants of the people enslaved by their ancestor. Joined by Le Datta Grimes (journalist and historian), they set off on a journey to share the stories of descendants and cousins linked by enslavement and the inheritance of Bibb’s resources. Their efforts culminate in a powerful family reunion in Kentucky at the site that represents both bondage and freedom.

Story Summary

The rupture caused by the events in Charlottesville, 2017, was the catalyst for the filmmaker and his sister to engage in a journey of understanding and repair for their family’s legacy as enslavers. What began as an exploration of reparations rooted in white privilege and paternalism, became a much deeper consideration of what it means to engage with the people and places impacted by their ancestors and a shared history of slavery, racism, anti-Black policies, as well as the resiliency and self-determination of a community working to repair itself.

In 1839, over sixty enslaved people were freed by the will of Major Richard Bibb. They inherited land, tools, and money–the resources needed to establish themselves as free Blacks in America. Today, descendants of those freedmen are rediscovering their own history as a process of repair and revitalization. Through their efforts, a local museum has been established, with the old plantation house transformed into a space focusing on the lives of the enslaved people who lived and worked on the plantation.

Joined by historian, Le Datta Grimes, PhD, the filmmakers explore the context of this historical narrative and investigate the living memories of local residents.
The film culminates with a reunion of the descendants of those who had been enslaved and the white descendants of Bibb. The attendees find that their histories are intertwined in ways they never imagined, in ways that reveal truths about race and America–truths deeply implicated by our country’s history of slavery and anti-Black policies.

  • Jonathan Knight
    Director
    Jonathan Knight, is a filmmaker and Visual Effects supervisor. With 18 years experience in Visual Effects for film this is Jonathan's first project in the role as Director. He has extensive experience in onset production as a VFX Dept. Head and has worked with acclaimed directors such as Sam Mendes, Paul King, Marc Forster, and Louis Leterrier. Growing up in Cambridge, MA he now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has recently become aware and intensely interested in his family's past in the South and involvement with slavery.
  • Le Datta Grimes
    Writer
    Le Datta Denise Grimes, PhD A historian, educator, and former journalist. Her research focus is Black agency, agenda, activism in education and she specifically studies a body of schools known as Rosenwald Schools. She is a Pulitzer Prize nominated newspaper journalist, and her work has appeared in both People and Newsweek magazines. She is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, but has called Kentucky home for nearly 20 years. Le Datta brings subject expertise with an instinct for story telling.
  • Jonathan Knight
    Producer
  • Le Datta Grimes
    Producer
  • Carla Roda
    Editor
    Our Quinceañera (2020)
  • Fanshen Cox
    Executive Producer
    An award-winning actor, producer and educator, Fanshen Cox has recently completed seven years of touring her one-woman show: One Drop of Love. She is also a Producer and Development Executive at Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Pearl Street Films, and a co-host of the podcast Sista Brunch.
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 29 minutes 9 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 31, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    350,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    2.35
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Tiburon International Film Festival
    Tiburon, CA
    United States
    November 14, 2022
    Official Selection
  • Tiburon International Film Festival
    Tiburon, CA
    United States
    November 14, 2022
    Orson Welles Award Winner
  • Denton Black Film Festival
    Denton, TX
    United States
    Official Selection
  • Santa Monica Film Festival
    Santa Monica, CA
    United States
    Official Selection
  • Denton Black Film Festival
    Denton, TX
    United States
    January 29, 2023
    Virtual People's Choice Award - Best Feature Documentary
Distribution Information
  • GOOD DOCS
    Distributor
    Country: United States
Director Biography - Jonathan Knight

Jonathan Knight, is a filmmaker and Visual Effects supervisor. With 19 years experience in Visual Effects for film this is Jonathan's first project in the role as Director. He has extensive experience in onset production as a VFX Dept. Head and has worked with acclaimed directors such as Sam Mendes, Paul King, Marc Forster, and Louis Leterrier. Growing up in Cambridge, MA he now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has recently become aware and intensely interested in his family's past in the South and involvement with slavery.

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