Horror Short Brings Supernatural Rage to Slavery's Story

Capital City Black Film Festival's "Swing Low"


"Hell can't hold the rage of a man with nothing left to lose." Those words open supernatural slavery horror "Swing Low," a story that came to scriptwriter Phil Elam when he was riding his bike in his hometown of Detroit. "It was like a download just came to me. The whole world just went away." The resulting script was compelling enough for Chicago-based film industry veteran Marvin Towns Jr. to come aboard as director, and gather a talented team of Detroit locals to bring this tale of revenge from the grave to life.

The supernatural terror takes place in the days leading up to the Civil War and follows two slave owners – Kincade (Andy Rathburg), and the malevolent Thompson (Curtis Lee Vest) – fighting over the ownership of one extraordinary slave named Samuel (Elam). The plot takes a turn after Samuel's murder, when Kincade takes advantage of an opportunity to let the dead man seek out grisly and poetic justice after death, made possible by blood, magical forces, and a set of braids.

The short has already had success on the festival circuit, including a best actor award for Elam's role as Samuel at the Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival in New York. Not that every response has been so positive. Elam said, "One film festival didn't want to show it because they thought it would start a riot."

Elam said the audience is invited to process the same feelings of revenge and justice Samuel grapples with; however, he said he believes it provides them hope by showing how, even when "Samuel is looking down at the valley of death [he] doesn't give in."


“Swing Low” screens at Capital City Black Film Festival with Long Time Coming: A 1955 Baseball Story and “Discharge” as part of Saturday Block 2, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2:30pm, Austin Convention Center Screen 4.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Capital City Black Film Festival
Capital City Black Film Festival Returns With New Voices
Capital City Black Film Festival Returns With New Voices
After a forced hiatus, stronger than ever

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 31, 2018

The Touchdowns That Changed Texas
The Touchdowns That Changed Texas
Civil rights and sports mix in Breaking Down Barriers: The C.R. Roberts Story

Kahron Spearman, Aug. 31, 2018

More by Charlie Neddo
Reading Group Welcomes Trans Qmmunity Knowledge
Reading Group Welcomes Trans Qmmunity Knowledge
Lived experience meets theory at Transgender Feminisms Reading Group

Sept. 24, 2018

New Documentary Highlights the Legacy of a Black Queer TV Pioneer
New Documentary Highlights the Legacy of a Black Queer TV Pioneer
Ellis Haizlip is the unapologetic Mr. Soul!

Sept. 7, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Swing Low, Capital City Black Film Festival, CCBFF, Phil Elam

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle