On Thursday, June 22, the Black Film Center/Archive presents a free screening of The House on Coco Road. The screening will be held at 7pm at the IU Libraries Screening Room in Wells Library. Reservations are required and can be made online at http://iub.libcal.com/event/3363205.
Directed by Damani Baker, The House on Coco Road is a compelling story about Baker’s mother, Fannie Haughton, an arising social activist in the 1960s. The film spans Baker’s family history, his upbringing in the San Francisco Bay Area with personal connections to Angela Davis and her sister Fania Davis, to spending some of his childhood on the Caribbean island of Grenada. Grenada initially appeared to be a paradise, marking a turning point for Haughton after witnessing the harsh prejudices that African Americans often endured in her native Oakland hometown, but Grenada’s peaceful environment was short-lived. The government experienced political upheaval, especially regarding the prime minister’s role as a leader, as well as the position of the military. As Grenada’s leadership changed, the Reagan administration grew concerned with Grenada’s military and political alliances, and as a result, invaded Grenada, having a profound effect on this island nation.
Baker’s film features interviews with his mother, as well as interviews with Angela Davis and Fania Davis. Baker also incorporates primary sources such as recorded tapes that he discovered, newspaper sources, and strong archival footage. The House on Coco Road premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2016, and was announced in May 2017 as the 16th acquisition of ARRAY, a film distribution company founded by Ava DuVernay.
Damani Baker offers this synopsis of The House on Coco Road on the film’s website:
In 1979 the Grenadian people carry out the first successful revolution in the English speaking Caribbean. Maurice Bishop becomes Prime Minister. The Revolution attracts workers from around the world including my mother, Fannie Haughton.
In 1982 Angela Davis, her family, and my mother visit Grenada to witness this miraculous Peoples’ Revolution. In 1983 my mother is offered a position in the Ministry of Education and we leave our home in Oakland and move to Grenada. I’d never seen her happier.
Grenada was briefly our home. In 1983 the United States led a military invasion following the assassination of the young popular Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop. We hid under the bed for three days as bombs shook our new paradise, and changed its course forever. Sixteen years later, in 1999, I returned to Grenada with my mother, and began shooting a documentary film, searching for her story, one that felt not just untold, but unfinished.
In 2014, I discovered a box of family super 8 footage of my great grandmother in rural Louisiana on the land our family sharecropped and my grandmother’s migration west. I started to unravel my mother’s path to activism. I started to understand why my mother, and a group of tireless women, had put their lives on the line, daring to build a better world. You may not know their names, but they have changed the course of history.
For more information about the BFC/A screening, visit our Events page at http://www.indiana.edu/~bfca/events/