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THE BELL AFFAIR Film Premiere for the Washington DC Area

June 2, 2022 @ 6:00 PM - 9:30 PM

Meet the creators and cast. Stay for conversation and reflection.  

FREE Registration required: The Bell Affair Eventbrite link

Event Details:




The Bell Affair is a feature film telling the true story of how Daniel and Mary Bell sued for their freedom in Washington, DC, and eventually led the largest escape attempt in American history. This debut feature comes from first-time filmmaker and director Kwakiutl Dreher, first-time feature-length animator and artist Michael Burton, and prize-winning historian William G. Thomas III. Filmed and directed remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic, the cast was never in the same room with each other or with the director at the same time.

The Bell family’s inspiring story is brought to cinema for the first time. 

In the summer of 1835, a strike at the Washington Navy Yard fueled a citywide race riot. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Francis Scott Key, set out to prosecute abolitionist Reuben Crandall for libelous sedition and the intent to incite a slave revolt. In the midst of this political turmoil, Daniel Bell convinced Mary’s dying slaveholder, Robert Armstead, to emancipate Mary and the children. Two days later, Armstead died. His widow Susan Armstead refused to honor the Bells’ freedom. leading them to seize their own freedom on the Pearl.

The film is a based on a true story from the book A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War by William G. Thomas, III. The project was produced with major support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Maryland Humanities, The Kitty M. Perkins Foundation, and the Office of Research and Economic Development at The University of Nebraska- Lincoln.

This event is co-presented by the Prince George’s Publick Playhouse, a facility of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation. Supporting partners include the Prince George’s Memorial Library System, Prince George’s County Historical Society, and Joe’s Movement Emporium.

For more information on the film visit Animating History: The Bell Affair. 

The Bell Affair Official Trailer from saltmarshproductions LLC on Vimeo.


June 2, 2022
6:00 PM - 9:30 PM
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Publick Playhouse Theater
5445 Landover Rd.
Hyattsville, MD 20784
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