Let Each One Go Where He May

Ben Russell

A reflection on the history of Surinamese migrants and slaves by one of the most prominent experimental film makers of our time, in thirteen takes each lasting ten minutes. He follows two brothers from the outskirts of Paramaribo via forest paths, goldmines and rivers to a Marron village.

'This is how we’ve heard it: during slavery, there was hardly anything to eat. They would whip you until your ass was burning, then they would give you a bit of plain rice in a bowl. And the gods said, they said that this is no way for human beings to live. The gods would help them. "Let each one go where he may." So they ran.'
This text from Lantifaya Masiakiiki is the starting point for the full length film debut by Ben Russell, one of the most prominent experimental film makers of our time. The film can be regarded as the culmination of his work: from his often ethnographically inspired short film oeuvre to the period when in the 1990s he was first active as a development worker in Bendekonde in Saramacca, Surinam.
Let Each One Go Where He May is made up of thirteen takes of ten minutes each. Two brothers (Benjen and Monie Pansa) are followed with a 16mm steady cam, an athletic and aesthetic top achievement by cameraman Chris Fawcett. From the outer suburbs of Paramaribo, along forest paths and marketplaces, past illegal goldmines to the jungle and on a motorboat along the river to a Maroon village, where they take part in the most exciting rituals still performed by these descendants of slaves who once fled the Dutch colonial rulers. The result is a reflection on the history of forced migration and a profound investigation into the cultural characteristics of looking and showing.

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