Tilt, a Richmond-based, Black and woman-owned full-service content marketing company, has developed its first original documentary film, “Birth of a Planet”, to tell the untold story of Richmond’s first Black newspaper, “The Richmond Planet.”
Birth of a Planet premiered on June 10 at the Richmond International Film Festival (RIFF), one of the largest international competitive film festivals in the Mid-Atlantic.
The film tells the story of a group of 13 formerly enslaved men in Richmond, Va. who used a printing press, ink and courage to battle the horrific realities of the Jim Crow south – demanding to have their voices heard, no matter the cost. In an era defined by lynchings, segregation and voter suppression, the Richmond Planet and its fearless editor John Mitchell, Jr. exposed stories of brutality, racism and injustice – issues that eerily remain just as relevant 140 years later.
“Working on the Birth of a Planet documentary has been a journey of exploration for myself and the city I love,” said director Sylvester R. Tucker. “The Richmond Planet was a microphone for Black voices in a city that sought to silence them, and I could not be more grateful for everyone involved in this project who continued the work of Black storytelling that John Mitchell, Jr. dreamed of. This project has been a constant reminder that Black lives still do matter and that Black voices still need to be heard.”
The project is the first of its kind for Tilt, who brought the documentary to life entirely in-house – from idea to research to script to shoots to music and animation.
“Richmond and Virginia are rich in Black history, but many stories remain untold,” said Tilt CEO and Founder, Ron Carey. “We began looking for a story that helped us tell our own: that representation in media matters in the news, culture, and advertising. That’s part of our fabric as a Richmond-based Black- and female-owned company. When we came across the story of The Richmond Planet and John Mitchell, Jr., we knew it was exactly what we’d been searching for.”
Carey added that “the Planet project started as a small idea with a lot of passion behind it.”
“It is our hope that the documentary will transcend film festivals to become an educational tool in schools, museums and other thought-provoking settings,” he said. “We want viewers of all ages and backgrounds to pause, reflect and hopefully learn.”
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