Documentary – Tracing the Hairstons – Test Screening

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020 at 6:00pm


Part of the theater’s “Films that Matter” Series


Toward the end of the American Civil War, the Hairstons, a unique family from Scotland, owned over 42 plantations and over 10,000 slaves in Virginia, North Carolina and Mississippi. Over time, the white Hairstons tried to conceal their ties to slavery, however, this family in black and white disrupts the truth about the legendary story that the Hairstons were simply great business people. This is part of a test screening series for the film Tracing the Hairstons.  The film’s director, Princess Hairston, will have 3-4 test screenings in Virginia and North Carolina to help the filmmaker obtain a better understanding of the structure and story development within the film.  These test screenings will also help ensure character development is strengthened and the integrity of the family history is absorbed through the film.  The audience will fill out index cards with notes on the film.  What scenes worked well, what did not, what was confusing, what characters they liked, what stories within the film need more work, etc.  The index cards will be submitted to the director / filmmaker.  The filmmaker will also do a Q and A with the audience to talk about some of the notes on the index cards.


This film features interviews from both black and white Hairstons who admit finding out the truth about their family’s history was appalling and scandalous. Tracing the Hairstons chronicles the unique story of the only family with the name Hairston to arrive in America and their journey to becoming one of the largest slave-holding families in American history.   The descendants of the white Hairstons finally open up about their dark ancestry and the descendants of the enslaved finally get to tell their ancestor’s stories that have been silenced for far too long. Tracing the Hairstons reveals the struggles and triumphs of a family that is bound by a name through the worst atrocity in American History.   We learn why this dynamic family sets itself apart to be one of the most unique and biggest family names in America history.