John E. O'Connor Film Award Recipients
In recognition of his exceptional role as a pioneer in both teaching and research regarding film and history, the American Historical Association has established this award in honor of John E. O'Connor, New Jersey Institute of Technology. The honorific award seeks to recognize outstanding interpretations of history through the medium of film or video.
2015 O’Connor Film Award
Dramatic Feature: 12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen, director; Brad Pitt, producer (Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2013)
With this breakthrough production the filmmakers and actors have adapted an important historical source, Solomon Northrup’s 1853 memoir of kidnapping and enslavement, into a gripping and also painfully accurate drama. In step with the best historical scholarship, this film also challenges Hollywood’s long romance with the plantation.
Documentary: Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of the Rebels
Tony Buba, director; Marcus Rediker, producer (Univ. of Pittsburgh, 2014)
Ghosts of Amistad documents historian Marcus Rediker’s road trip through Sierra Leone, listening to the African side of slavery’s living past, to find traces of memory about the 1839 Amistad mutiny. Through innovative oral history methods and factual sleuthing, the filmmakers present a compelling portrait of historians at work in today’s world.