I Don’ Been Through the Snake’s Skin & Come Out Clean

Screens on Thursday, April 7, 5pm – First Unitarian Society of Plainfield


Ada Babino, Producer, Director, Writer

Ada M. Babino is a producer, director, writer and founder of Jezebel Filmworks; a production service company which was the impetus for her independently produced a half-hour docu-drama on hair entitled Middle Passage -N- Roots.  Through Jezebel Filmworks, she produced two specials, Blues & Dreams and Romare Bearden: The Main Ingredients, for Black Entertainment Television in the early 2000s. She has worked in a variety of roles over the past twenty years, as a freelance video technician, production manager, assistant director, and field producer for-hire.  Ms. Babino was a Special Projects Producer at BET On Jazz, Black Entertainment Television’s cable jazz channel, from 1997-2001. Her documentary on jazz legend, Shirley Horn entitled, Shirley Horn: Sassared & Blowed was awarded an honorable mention at the 1999, National Black Programming Consortium’s 18th Annual Prized Pieces Award.  Babino served as an Associate Producer for the first season of Black Entertainment Television’s daily entertainment magazine preview show, Screen Scene.  As a free-lance producer, she produced an In The Spirit segment for HARPO Production’s Oprah Winfrey Show. In the independent arena, she has provided community outreach/marketing for a number of successful indie films. Her initial production experience began with the highly acclaimed film, Sankofa in the late eighties where she started as a production coordinator and worked her way up to Line Producer. During its 1994-95 national limited commercial release she worked in distribution and provided publicist services.  A native from San Antonio, Texas, Babino has a Masters from American University in Video/Film Production and a B.A. in Broadcast Production from Howard University.

About I Don’ Been Through the Snake’s Skin & Come Out Clean

The roots of the family tree are entangled with rich stories, culture, drama, 
humor, heartache and survival. Coming through the snake's skin clean speaks
to the triumphs of life, love and the legacy of a southern family.

Collective memory has lingered through the generations of the Frank family heritage. Stories from the motherland, wisdom and witticism revealed, and history imbedded in the hearts and minds souls of an African American family whose lives are enriched by elders who paved the way for a better tomorrow. Realizing the significant role of our elderly, and the value of senior wit and wisdom, “I Don’ Been Through The Snake’s Skin & Come Out Clean” organically documents Louisiana grandparents struggles that are genuinely realized through cross-generational transmission of values, commitment, and cohesiveness of a southern family.

Coming through the snake’s skin describes surviving the trials and tribulations of life, intact.  A feature documentary about the Frank family elders who survived life in the deep south in Opelousas, Louisiana provides one example of strength and sustainability, faith and family outliving Jim Crow laws, this depression, mass migration north, major wars, and the struggle for basic human and civil rights in the country.  The story of Mama and Papa Frank has not been recorded in history books, yet they are a testimony to a strong African American family.  They have greatly impacted the lives of their family and played a significant role in society as a honest, hardworking African American couple who have built a strong family foundation and exemplified a solid work ethic.  Like millions of American families, they should be remembered as beacons of humanity.

A family’s elders are its living historians. Yet, oral traditions are taken for granted as new generations focus on modernity and our living repositories pass on. Elders are not honored and youth have limited exposure to senior citizens who were once looked upon in the community as sources of wisdom and counsel.  Future generations are therefore limited because the transmission of ones experiences and knowledge-acquired overtime is often a point of reference or is lost.

In Opelousas, Louisiana, on Washington Street, across dusty railroad tracks, and adjacent to the Lou Anna Foods factory, a pink house has been the residence of Nathan Sr. and Savannah Frank for over 45 years. Both Nathan and Savannah were reared in sharecropper families.  Nathan, a quiet man born in 1917, worked the same job at Lou Anna Oil Mill just two blocks from home for 63 years.  An employee award named in his honor continues to be given at the company’s annual gumbo dinner.  Savannah Weatheroy Frank never learned to read or write, but could quote the Bible and practice effective accounting. She was a self-taught entrepreneur working hard as a domestic during the day and cooked and sold dinners to the men on the railroad, and ironed clothes by night earning, saving and investing her money.  Together, they successfully raised three children as well as other siblings, relatives, and extended family.

Documented by the Frank’s granddaughter, this project captures the organic wisdom of a family’s elders who played a critical role in their family’s survival, strength and excellence by passing on family history across three generations of a southern family.  Their straightforward, yet poetic slice-of-life stories about overcoming hardships, African heritage, slavery spirituality, child rearing, courting/dating, love, marriage, family life, and favorite pastimes are gems of history and evidence of redemptive acts practiced daily.  The documentary includes extended interviews with the family patriarch and matriarch, as well as their off-spring and grandchildren.  These oral histories are contextualized by creative transitions, voice-over narration, stock footage, flash back, and still photography to create a composite, universal story that is educational, entertaining and indicative of the African American experience.