The Man and the lion

A freed slave becomes the greatest liberator

A 19th century published American author, having escaped bondage, finds himself in fear of his life and leaves home embarking on a transatlantic voyage to an island that alters and transforms his life forever.

Frederick Douglass, a fugitive slave, voyages 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean seeking asylum. Douglass visits Ireland for the first time in August 1845.

When Douglass steps on Ireland's fossilized colonial Munster plantation in Youghal, Co. Cork, an historical journey begins.  Architect of Empire Sir Walter Raleigh sells vast tracts of confiscated land to the wealthiest subject of the British crown, the infamous, colonial developer Richard Boyle. Boyle's son, the Father of Chemistry and co-founder of The Royal Society, Robert Boyle author of 'Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours (1664)' connects seventeenth and eighteenth century science, commerce, colonialism, and slavery. Taking science and evolution from founder of The X Club, Charles Darwin’s Bulldog, Thomas Henry Huxley, and his grandson, first director of UNESCO Julian Huxley brings a pulsating story of slavery, colonization, science and resistance as it unfolds in the face of oppression.

Film’s Dramatic Arc ONE:


Frederick Douglass's early life in America to his transatlantic voyage to Ireland in 1845.

Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey; c. February 1818 February 20, 1895) was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman.

As a young boy, growing up on a plantation, Douglass’s childhood is one of legal forced labour, brutality and slavery.  Douglass learns to read and write; he is different from the other young slaves. Douglass' planned four day visit to Ireland led to a four month 'transformative' visit where he met Daniel O'Connell.  From Dublin, Douglass travels south through Wexford, Waterford and Youghal before spending almost a month in Cork.

Douglass' remark of his time in Ireland “I saw no-one that seemed to be shocked or disturbed by my dark presence. No one seemed to feel himself contaminated by contact with me.” Douglass’ observes the abject poverty in Ireland remaining resolute to his abolition cause “The Irish man is poor, but he is not a slave. He may be in rags, but he is not a slave. He is still the master of his body.”

His time in the country was truly transformative, with, for example, the influence of O’Connell widely credited with helping turn Douglass from a ‘single-issue’ anti-slavery campaigner to a broader human rights activist. The experience in Ireland also gave him the confidence to step away from the white abolitionist grandees once he returned to America in 1847, forging his own path and becoming in essence his own movement.

Ending slavery was not enough, equality must be achieved. Douglass wrote in 1846:  'I can truly say, I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life since landing in this country. I seem to have undergone a transformation. I live a new life…Instead of the bright blue sky of America, I am covered with the soft grey fog of the Emerald Isle. I breathe, and lo! The chattel becomes a man.'

Film’s Dramatic Arc TWO


The Old World of monarchs, conquest, massacres, land confiscation and colonial settlement that develops into a science and colonial structural weapon.

The second interrelating dramatic arc of extends from the period of the Act of Supremacy (1534) stretching through Eurocentric discrimination to the UNESCO declaration of known facts about human race (1950).

The broader historical arc follows periods of history in which Sir Walter Raleigh (massacres, colonization), Richard Boyle (plantation, land confiscation), Robert Boyle (natural knowledge, science), Thomas Henry Huxley (racism) and Julian Huxley (eugenics, declaration on race) were prominent public figures.

A global perspective of colonization and natural knowledge that play a significant role in human identification and classification. In line with previous work from UNESCO to dispel harmful myths of 'a superior human race' The Man and the Lion feature documentary is a tool of resistance and education for all children, women and men of goodwill engaged in the good fight for human sisterhood and brotherhood against discrimination and hatred.

Sir Walter Raleigh 'Architect of Empire'. Richard Boyle 'most successful colonial adventurer of the 17th Century.' Robert Boyle 'The Father of Chemistry'. Thomas Henry Huxley 'Darwin's Bulldog' . Johann Friedrich Blumenbach 'Father of Taxonomy'. Julian Huxley 'Founder of UNESCO'.
Æsop Fable THE MAN AND THE LION. 1828, Francis Danby's The Opening of the Sixth Seal, National Gallery of Ireland. 1576 Trade routes expand. 1664 Boyles Experiments on Skin Color. Boyle Monument St. Patrick's Cathedral. Jonathan Swift author of 'The Modest Proposal' and 'Gulliver's Travels'.
The Toy Seller National Gallery of Ireland. Boyle's 'The Beginning of an Experimental History of Colours'. Darwinian Evolution.

Aidan Whelan

Writer / Producer Aidan Whelan owns and runs Wildflower Pictures, an award-winning Irish production company which was established in 2015.  Wildflower Pictures develops, produces and markets factual, scripted TV Series and independent Motion Films.  On the current Wildflower Pictures slate is an Academy Award Winning Screenplay Motion Film, and TV Series in development with US partners.

Inside I’m Racing (2017) is a multi-award winning Irish production themed on an autistic boy with a passion for motor-sport.

executive Producer

Liam McGrath

Writer / Director Liam McGrath owns and runs Scratch Films, a multi-award-winning company that was established in 1994, making factual, scripted comedy and fiction.

He is a graduate of Coláiste Dhúlaigh College of Further Education and The National Film School of Ireland.  His film school graduation production in 1993 was the multi award winning film Boys for Rent. It told the story of Dublin boy prostitutes and established McGrath as a filmmaker of merit. McGrath established Scratch Films in 1994 and soon after directed the award-winning feature documentary Southpaw which received its international premier at the Sundance Film Festival before going on to a theatrical release in the USA, Britain and Ireland.

Since then, McGrath has produced and directed numerous award-winning documentaries and comedy programmes with many festival successes and was awarded The Irish Film And Television Academy’s ‘Best Director’ accolade in 2015.  To date McGrath has over a 100 hours of broadcast productions to his credit.


PRof. james walvin

PROF. JAMES WALVIN O.B.E., B.A. (Keele), M.A. (McMaster), D. Phil. (York), D.Litt. (York St. Johns), Fellow, Royal Society of Literature, Fellow, European Academy, F.R.H.S. James Walvin’s published work has been largely in the field of slavery and modern British Social History. In 2019-20 he held the position of Distinguished Fellow in the History and Culture of the Americas, at the Huntington Library. He previously held fellowships at Yale University, The University of the West Indies, the Australian National University and the University of Edinburgh. For twenty years James co-edited the journal Slavery and Abolition.


dr. Laurence fenton

DR. LAURENCE FENTON is a writer and editor living in Cork, Ireland. He received a PhD in History from University College Cork in 2003 before working as an archaeologist and bookseller across Ireland and England.

Since 2009, he has worked as an editor, copy-editor and proofreader on everything from cookery magazines and travel books to academic monographs and biographies of figures like Rory Gallagher and Oscar Wilde. He has also written a number of history books in this time, including Frederick Douglass in Ireland: The Black O'Connell (2014)


Dr. David Edwards

Colonialism in action: Richard Boyle, 1st earl of Cork

DR. DAVID EDWARDS uses on the career and estate of the notorious 'New English' adventurer Richard Boyle, 1st earl of Cork, whose land-grabbing activities in Munster and parts of Connacht and Leinster helped to transform the social and economic life of early seventeenth-century Ireland.  Boyle re-peoples large parts of southern Ireland with English and Welsh settlers and artisans to create a supposedly model English colony, and he consolidates this through his relations with the native Gaelic and Anglo-Irish inhabitants who border his lands to create  a great colonial estate piece by piece. Relying on the native intermediaries as well as English government power to first negotiate acquisition from them and then to manage their displacement. piece by piece. The picture emerges of one of the most significant figures of Ireland's 'Age of Plantations'.


Dr. philomena mullen

Assistant Professor of Black Studies, Trinity College Dublin

Assistant Professor of Black Studies in the Department of Sociology at Trinity College Dublin. A teacher introducing students to the epistemology of Black Studies as an intellectual pursuit. This is an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary field of knowledge that interrogates historical events that have impacted on those who are racialised as Black, while centring the perspectives of Black people in constructing and deconstructing these events.  Additional teachings in Race Ethnicity and Conflict at the Sociology Department. Co-Chair the Race, Ethnicity and Equality Working Group in College with the AVPEDI.


Mr. Doudou diÈne

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racial Intolerance.

MR. Doudou Diène was a prizewinner in philosophy in Senegal’s Concours Général.  Diène holds a law degree from the University of Caen, a doctorate in public law from the University of Paris and a diploma in political science from the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris. Appointed Director of the Liaison Office with the United Nations, Permanent Missions and United Nations departments in New York. Deputy representative of Senegal to UNESCO (1972–77). Vice-President and Secretary of the African Group and Group of 77. Deputy Assistant Director-General for External Relations, spokesperson for the Director-General, and acting Director of the Bureau of Public Information.

After a period as Project Manager of the ‘Integral Study of the Silk Roads:Roads of Dialogue’ aimed at revitalizing East-West dialogue, he was appointed Director ofthe Division of Intercultural Projects in 1993. Directed various projects on intercultural dialogue, including the Slave Route, Routes of Faith, Routes of al-Andalus, and Iron Roads in Africa. Editorial director of From Chains to Bonds, (UNESCO, 1998), writing the preface to Tradition oraleet archives de la traite négrière (UNESCO, 2001), as well as the editorial of Newsletter No. 2of ‘The Slave Route’ (UNESCO, 2001).


Prof. Peter J. Bowler

President of the British Society for the History of Science

Peter J. Bowler is Professor emeritus of the History of Science at Queen's University, Belfast. He is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was President of the British Society for the History of Science from 2003 to 2005. He has an M.A. in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University (King's College), an M.Sc. in Philosophy and the Theory of Sciences from the University of Sussex and a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Toronto. Before moving to Queen's University, Belfast in 1979 he taught at the Universities of Toronto and Winnipeg and at Universiti Sains Malaysia. He has published extensively on the development and impact of the theory of evolution, focusing especially on the role played by theories other than Darwinian natural selection. More recently he has worked on the relationship between science and religion and on twentieth-century British popular science. His latest work is on twentieth-century speculations about the future development of science and technology, combining a long-standing interest in science fiction with his knowledge of the popular science literature.


Kate Njoku

Kate Njoku performance singer 'Amazing Grace'.

Founder, Director, CEO at SHE Stands Out Global Initiative, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Founder at Human Rights and Employment Matters, Founder, Director, CEO at Global Support and Empowerment For Women Initiative.


John Nutekpor

John Nutekpor is a scholar, educator and Performing Arts Practitioner with experienced skills as an event curator, musician, and dancer. He holds an MA in festive arts and is currently a final year PhD candidate at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick.

John has presented academic and performing arts workshops at national and international conferences including UNESCO conference in Frankfurt, Germany, International Dance workshop in Bangladesh, and composers’ workshop in United Kingdom. His research is focused on exploring Irish - Ghanaian cultural relationships with sustainable models of cultural integration. He is the initiator of IIMS Gabla Ensemble and African drumming and songs course.

Professional dance performer

alessandra azevedo

Alessandra Azevedo is an Afro-Brazilian dancer, Capoeira performer & instructor from Salvador, Bahia – home to the largest African diaspora population & Afro-Brazilian culture.

Alessandra's practice is rooted in body movement to promote connections and cultural education, driven by the potential of her African Brazilian heritage and using dance as a tool to achieve it. Alessandra shares styles from the many African dances that were developed as a form of personal and artistic expression in areas where the diaspora settled - many rhythms and dances developed from these roots that still echo the strength, culture, resilience and beauty of African communities.

development stills


Douglass Week

A variety of collaborative projects culminating to commemorate Frederick Douglass’s journey and visit to Ireland in the 19th century. #DouglassWeek showcased over 60 projects with highlights, events and initiatives across several strands. #DouglassWeek was developed by Dr. Caroline Schroeter and hosted at University College Cork. 

Song Commission

Wildflower Pictures commissioned a song for #DouglassWeek. Below are some images from the recording session.

Modern day Slavery

Modern slavery is a heinous crime and a morally reprehensible act that deprives a person's liberty and dignity for another person's gain. Now a multibillion-dollar industry with just the forced labor aspect generating US $150 billion each year. The Global Slavery Index (2018) estimated that roughly 40.3 million individuals are currently caught in modern slavery, with 71% of those being female, and 1 in 4 being children.


Racism : a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race creating division of one race over another.

Slavery & civil rights during the 20th century

American civil rights activist and Baptist minister, Martin Luther King Jr., during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. In the speech.

The civil rights movement was a struggle for social justice that took place mainly during the 1950s and 1960s for Black Americans to gain equal rights under the law in the United States. By the mid-20th century, Black Americans had had more than enough of prejudice and violence against them.

Global movements to end racism & slavery during the 21st century

Africa recorded the highest rate of modern-day enslavement in the world.
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