Like Beloved, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Toni Morrison, the opera Margaret Garner was inspired by the true story of a slave who was forced to become the mistress of a slave-owner. In 1856, she fled from Kentucky with her family to the free state of Ohio. Rather than allow her two little girls to be taken back into slavery, Margaret killed her own children. The case became a cause célèbre. Should Margaret be tried for murder--a tacit admission by the white establishment that slaves were human beings--or should she be tried for destruction of property because her children belonged to a slave owner?
Tunisian director Mustapha Hasnoui s documentary offers a backstage look at Margaret Garner, which not only includes scenes from the opera but also the story of Garner herself, plus a chronicle of the problems incurred in mounting this memorable production and a glimpse into the life of mezzo soprano Denyce Graves. His film subtly documents race relations in America and the need to reconcile the past and present.