The Book Of Negroes

" I have a rich, dark skin Some people have described it as blue black. My eyes are hard to read, and I like them so. Distrust, disdain, dislike-one does not want to give public notice to such sentiments. Some say I was once uncommonly beautiful, but I wouldn't wish beauty on any woman who has not her own freedom, and who chooses not the hands that claim her."

THE Book of Negroes, a six-part mini-series directed by Jamaican Clement Virgo, airs on BET February 16 as part of the cable channel's Black History Month schedule.

The programme is based on Canadian author Lawrence Hill's award-winning novel of the same name. It stars Aunjanue Ellis as Aminata Diallo, an African woman sold into slavery in colonial America, before making her way to Canada, Sierra Leone and England where she gained her freedom at the dawn of the 19th century.

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The Book of Negroes is co-produced by Virgo's Conquering Lion Pictures, Out of Africa Entertainment, Entertainment One (eOne) and Idlewild Films.

It also stars Oscar-winning actors Cuba Gooding Jr and Louis Gossett Jr, Jamaican Lyriq Bent, Oscar nominee Jane Alexander and Ben Chaplin.

The Montego Bay-born Virgo, whose films have been shown at the Toronto International Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival, is also co-writer for The Book of Negroes' screenplay.

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Virgo, 48, has lived in Canada since he was 11-years-old. He has directed cutting-edge cable dramas such as The L Word and The Wire.

Born in Kingston, Bent spent part of his childhood in Clarendon and moved to Canada at age six. He starred in the 2013 Canadian film, Home Again, which was co-written by Toronto-based Jamaican film-maker Jennifer Holness.

Bent was in Kingston for the film's Jamaican premiere in September that year.

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The Book of Negroes first aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently. Hill's tome won the 2008 Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Book.

-- Howard Campbell

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