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Reclaiming Untold Stories: Fred Kudjo Kuwornu's Documentary Sheds Light on Black Africans in Renaissance Europe at Venice Biennale 2024

Fred Kudjo Kuwornu is an American- Ghanaian-Italian artist who has been selected to perform in the central pavilion curated by Brazilian Adriano Pedrosa at the 60th International Art Biennale, currently taking place in Venice (Italy) at the Giardini Biennale.


From April 20th to November 24th, the documentary "We Were Here - The Untold History of Black Africans in Renaissance Europe" will be accessible to exhibition visitors before embarking on an international journey through film festivals and screenings in major museums worldwide starting in 2025.


Given the theme and title of this Biennale, "Foreigners Everywhere," I wanted to include migrant and refugee actors in this project, which aims to explain how Africans have always lived in Europe for centuries, although their presence has diluted over three generations, despite being traceable in numerous documents and visual representations of the era, Kuwornu said.


The documentary is a long journey through Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Ghana and the United States to reconstruct the story of the Africans who were in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. The film highlights where they came from, whether they were all servants or not, and why they are depicted in countless paintings by the most famous painters, sculptors, and artists of the European’s Renaissance included Titian, Caravaggio, Velazquez and others.


Venice Biennale 2024: Black Presence in Renaissance Europe at (Art Biennale)

Among the stories of excellence told by the international scholars interviewed by Kuwornu are those of San Benedetto "Il Moro," co-patron of the city of Palermo; the ambassador Ne Vunda buried in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome; Joao Panasco, a Portuguese knight of the military and religious Order of Santiago; the painter Juan De Pareja, who as a slave was the assistant to Diego Velazquez; the Latin professor Juan Latino, the first Afro-descendant professor at a European university; and Alessandro De' Medici, the first Duke of Florence.

Photo Credits: Stefano Giacomini


Fred Kuwornu,  in addition to being an Italian citizen, he is also American and Ghanaian. For years he has lived in New York, where he founded his production company Do The Right Films, with which he produces documentaries dealing with the history of the Global African Diaspora in the world. 


In addition to his role as a producer and director, he also serves as a teacher, distributor, and curator of the Black Europe Film Showcase, a film festival that promotes Afro-European-directed European cinema worldwide.

The director of the Venice Biennale, Adriano Pedrosa, wanted to support this project, which also has a social purpose aimed at promoting African presence in European schools and institutions through the social media channels and the platform wewereherethefilm.comintegrating the film's content into other transmedia contexts.


The film has been supported by Africa No Filter, OSF and University of Minnesota.For more on how to support the project, visit:




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