Azilia Films has entered preproduction on its second film project, The Wintering Grounds, a short documentary film which will highlight a nomadic kayaking community that has sprung up on urban whitewater in the Deep South-city of Columbus, Georgia.
The film’s title refers to the name these globe-traveling, world-class freestyle kayakers have named their beloved wintertime campsite. The group gathers in downtown Columbus each winter to sharpen their skills in the mild weather and warmer waters, and to share camaraderie and companionship with fellow competitors and their families.
Unlike any other place in the world, Columbus’s Chattahoochee River whitewater offers these professional athletes an easily accessible yet challenging venue, all within a friendly community and hospitable wintertime location .
We just returned from a second highly successful research trip to Monrovia and Buchanan, Liberia, where we positively identified two families directly descended from the Chattahoochee Valley emigrants and got leads for several more. Further, we continued to build local connections with Liberian government officials, institutions, and businesspersons who will help ensure success for our upcoming production trip.
Do you have Chattahoochee Valley roots and Liberian family connections?
The American Colonization Society, or ACS, kept rolls of the African-Americans it sponsored to emigrate to Liberia (see image below). The Chattahoochee Valley emigrants from Columbus, Georgia and Eufaula, Alabama made up a significant percentage of ACS-sponsored emigres, especially after the Civil War. Most located in Grand Bassa County in and around the port city of Buchanan.
These records are an important part of our film, Liberia: An American-African Legacy. We are using this list to research and identify Chattahoochee Valley descendants in Liberia. Our plan is to knit this story — and hopefully families — together again. It is a fascinating story little known in the United States.
Liberia: An American-African Legacy, Azilia Films’ first feature, will illustrate the United States’ profound historical relationship and ongoing association with Liberia through the story of Columbus, Georgia’s 1867-1868 emigration and its present-day relationships.
We are proud to release the trailer for our upcoming film; check it out below, on our homepage, and on our new YouTube channel.
Our initial “placeholder” working title for our film documenting Columbus, Georgia’s and Liberia’s past and present relationships was simply the “Chattahoochee Valley/Liberia Project,” or the CV/L Project.
As we move forward, we’ll begin using a new working title, Liberia: An American-African Legacy, a perhaps catchier title, but one that also captures the ironic cultural twist that Liberia’s history and American associations represents.
So, you’ll see Liberia: An American-African Legacy going forward, and CV/L Project in some of our past posts and documentation, both monikers representing the same project.
We’re looking forward to an exciting 2018… we’re set to announce two major financial commitments to the CV/L project, release the full trailer, and enter full production! Looking forward to return production and research trips to Liberia in West Africa this spring, as well as securing the final financial pieces to complete the project and share it with the public. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram!
Our project team had a great time helping welcome Liberian President and Nobel laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to our hometown. Azilia’s Matt McDaniel had the honor of introducing her when she spoke at Midtown Medical Center. President Sirleaf repeatedly spoke to Columbus’s and Liberia’s past and present associations in several speaking engagements around town, associations our first film will explore. Beyond great to have such a notable supporter and fan!
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks to a standing-room-only crown at Midtown Medical Center in Columbus.
Midtown Medical Center’s Mike Stewart speaks to Columbus’s historic association with Liberia.
Azilia Films’ Hal Pope, Silvia Bunn, Matt McDaniel, and V.J. Roberts after President Sirleaf’s speech at Midtown Medical Center.
James Sirleaf, Dan Quigley, Matt McDaniel, Hal Pope, and V.J. Roberts with President Sirleaf.