Janelle Monáe, Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Gabourey Sidibe, Kiersey Clemons
Occupying a space somewhere between social horror and historical thriller, Antebellum follows successful author Veronica Henley (Janelle Monáe), who finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality that forces her to confront the past, present and future.
Plot details are intentionally scarce, but Antebellum is a bold and ambitious first feature, one that explores America’s dark history, white privilege, prevailing contemporary racism, and ancestral trauma.
Directed by filmmaking duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, the former black and the latter white, the film has been divisive amongst critics in the States. Yet, Antebellum has certainly resonated with US audiences, topping the VOD chart there after being denied a theatrical release. Some critics have understandably found the brutality depicted upon black characters difficult to watch, something that co-director Gerard Bush acknowledged and discussed further with IndieWire following the film’s release.
“I want to make it clear that we are deeply respectful of the trauma that Black folk have endured since our beginning in this country and we understand the exhaustion of it,” Bush said. “We are not irresponsible artists, and we would never want to traumatise the community. We know that it is quite traumatising for some people and we need to respect that, but we also need for them to respect that Black people are not monolith and they don’t get to decide, as ‘thought leaders,’ what black people need or the conversations that they want to have around this film.”
Contains strong racial violence, sexual violence and racist terms.