'Antebellum' star Tongayi Chirisa says film offers a "beacon of awareness" on "the current situation in America"

Photo credit: Stanley Takwana Tongayi

(NEW YORK) — Tongayi Chirisa is praising his new psychological thriller Antebellum which he believes offers a deliberate commentary on the current racial tensions in our country.

“At this point, I no longer consider it a film,” Chirisa tells ABC Audio. “I think it is definitely an art piece that is part of the current situation in America. I think it is definitely a beacon of awareness.”

“And, for everyone that has questions as to what the protests were all about, what the Black Lives movement was all about,” he continues. “I think this is a beautiful visual to emphasize and to explain, without using too many words, what the last couple of months have been all about.”

In the film, which also stars singer-actress Janelle Monáe, Chirisa plays Eli, a man who has been mysteriously abducted and enslaved on a 19th-century Southern plantation. Chirisa, a Zimbabwe native, says he felt a special connection to the project considering he was also learning the painful history of America.

“With the history behind… this country, to work on a film like this — especially where we were in New Orleans — there was a sense of it was more than just a film,” he says. “It was very spiritual, because we did get to work on a plantation. And to be on the ground where our forefathers lived for 400 years, there was something a little bit more than it just being a film. It felt like a rite of passage for me.”

Chirisa gives credit to the film’s directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz for “actually having their fingers on the pulse of society.”

“They did an amazing job,” he says, comparing them to prophets. “They were literally ahead of their time with this project.”

Antebellum is available to watch On Demand.

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