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Family Affair cover photo

Family Affair 2010


Distributed by Ro*co Films International, llc, 80 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 5, Sausolito, CA 94965; 415-332-6471
Produced by Impact Partners, Firelight Media and WGBH
Directed by Chico Colvard
DVD, color, 88 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
African American Studies, Domestic Violence, Parenting, Psychology, Sociology, Child Abuse, Families, Incest

Date Entered: 11/28/2011

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Unlike his three siblings, Chico David Colvard was never sexually abused by his father, Elijah. As a 10-year child, however, it’s Chico who in 1978 called attention to the crime by accidentally shooting his older sister Paula in the leg. The seemingly random act of violence set off a series of events that eventually sent Elijah to prison for sexual assault and broke apart the dysfunctional family unit. Three decades later, the filmmaker returns to his hometown in Kentucky to begin the difficult and painful process of documenting what happened to his outwardly happy middle-class family.

Through interviews with siblings, parents and other relatives, an account of long-standing cruelty and incest slowly unfolds. It is clear from each player’s narrative in this multi-layered story that the psychological scars of abuse run deep. All three sisters suffer from ongoing physical and mental health problems, yet each maintains a relationship with the father who is at the root of the trauma. Even as an old man with severe health issues himself, Elijah is unrepentant of his behavior. Raising more questions than it answers, the film illustrates through one family’s tragedy a pervasive and destructive societal issue.

Told subjectively but without fear, this feature-length deeply personal account shines a light on the reality and troubled complexity of families in crisis. While not an easy story to hear, it is one that must be told. Awards include:

  • Best Documentary / Audience Award Winner, 2010 Independent Film Festival Boston
  • Documentary Feature / Jury Award Winner, 2010 Atlanta Film Festival