February 17, 2023

Suing for Their Freedom: Film Director Visits WCU to Discuss The Bell Affair

DreherAs part of a series of events celebrating Black History Month, West Chester University welcomes Kwakiutl L. Dreher on Wednesday, February 22, at 4:30 p.m. for a free presentation on the creation of her animated, feature-length film, The Bell Affair, which was released in June 2022. She will detail her journey as the director, producer, and writer of the film while shooting it remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The event takes place in Sykes Student Union Room 252.

Dreher’s presentation will be followed by a screening of The Bell Affair in the Sykes Student Union Theater on Thursday, February 23, at 4:30 p.m. Based on true events, the film follows Daniel and Mary Bell, two enslaved parents who sued for their freedom and won. After their previous slaveholders threatened them with re-enslavement, the Bells and their children participated in one of the largest escape attempts in history in the effort to find freedom. The film follows their battle in court and their subsequent trip from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia on a schooner called The Pearl. The screening will be followed by a reception with Dreher in Sykes Room 252.

Specializing in African American literature, film, visual, and popular culture, Dreher is an associate professor of English and women’s and gender studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Additionally, Dreher directed the short film, Anna, which earned the Best Animation Award at the New Media Film Festival in 2018, and starred in The Eyes of Isabelle (2014). She also penned the book Dancing on the White Page: Black Women Entertainers Writing Autobiography in addition to multiple other articles and essays.

Dreher’s visit is sponsored by The Institute of Race and Ethnic Studies and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

For more information, contact Miguel Ceballos, associate professor of sociology, at mceballos@wcupa.edu.


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