CIFF 2022: King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones, Art and Pep, The Big Payback | Parties and Awards
“King of Kings: In Pursuit of Edward Jones” finds filmmaker Harriet Marin Jones working to uncover the details of the life of her grandfather, Edward Jones, a man who as a child moved with his family to Chicago during the Great Migration and would perhaps become the Afro- richest American in the entire country with a fortune calculated at hundreds of millions of dollars in today’s currency. Having originally considered going into medicine, he, along with his brothers Mack and George, soon went into business to launch a game known as Policy – a precursor to state lotteries in which players deposited a small amount of money on a daily draw. in the hope that they would pick the right one and win the payoff that was popular in black neighborhoods. The amounts invested by players may have been small – which is why the game thrived even in the face of the Depression – but so many people participated that concern for Jones, who became the main on the south side of the city , reportedly attracted as much as $20,000 a day.
Although gambling was, of course, illegal, Jones was largely left alone and used the power and prestige brought by his fortune to help establish the Bronzeville neighborhood as the hub of black-owned business in the United States. at the time, solidifying the large African-American vote and associated with luminaries such as Josephine Baker and Duke Ellington. Although Jones was able to stave off attempts to take over political racketeering by the Italian mob led by Al Capone, an ill-fated venture with mobster Sam Giancana would prove to be his undoing, bringing the downfall of his once thriving empire and a un near-erasure from local history books that would leave him an enigma even among his own descendants.
With little to say in the official record, Jones conducts his own investigation into his grandfather’s life, using archival footage (including footage of Jones testifying at the widely publicized Kefauver Committee hearings investigating organized crime), current interviews with historians, family members and people who knew him (including no less a figure than Quincey Jones, who first met him with his family while he was a young child), visits to the long-closed venues where he built his success, and even a few gripping animated moments to boot. While not entirely groundbreaking in terms of cinematic technique, the story Jones tells is so undeniably compelling that few people will notice – it’s the kind of big, sweeping detective saga that feels tailor-made. for a sumptuous screen treatment. At the same time, however, it also works on a smaller, more intimate level as a story of someone exploring their family roots and coming to terms with the surprisingly large and far-reaching legacy they come to uncover along the way. road.