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. As a child, Edward moved with his family to Chicago during the Great Migration and would go on to become perhaps the wealthiest African American in the entire country with a fortune calculated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars in today’s money. . 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 fetching as much as $20,000 a day.

Although gambling is, of course, illegal, Jones was largely left alone. Jones used the power and prestige brought by his fortune to help establish the Bronzeville neighborhood as the center of black-owned business in the United States at the time, shore up the growing African-American vote, and to associate with luminaries such as Josephine Baker and Duc 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 left in the official record, director Jones conducts her own investigation into her 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 (with no less than one figure than Quincey Jones, who first met him with his family as a young child), visits to the long-closed venues where he built his success, and even some 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, the film also works on a smaller, more intimate level; “King of Kings” is the story of a person exploring their family roots and coming to terms with the surprisingly vast and far-reaching legacy they come to discover along the way.