Skip to content

Netflix Acquires Worldwide Rights To Documentary 'Descendant'

Netflix Acquires Worldwide Rights To Documentary 'Descendant'

Higher Ground will join Netflix in presenting the documentary from Participant later this year

  • Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to Participant’s feature documentary Descendant. Higher Ground, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, will present the film, alongside Netflix.

  • The film, a Night Tide production, in association with Two One Five Entertainment and directed by Margaret Brown, premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews.

  • Descendant received the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Creative Vision at Sundance in 2022. 

  • Director: Margaret Brown (The Order of Myths, Be Here to Love Me: Townes Van Zandt, The Great Invisible)

  • Producers: Kyle Martin, Essie Chambers and Margaret Brown

  • Executive Producers: Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann; Kate Hurwitz; Two One Five Entertainment’s Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Shawn Gee and Zarah Zohlman

  • Quote from Margaret Brown: “I have been humbled and honored to spend four years with the residents of Africatown as they seek justice and reconciliation for what happened in 1860, and what is still happening today,” said Brown. “I am excited that through Netflix and Higher Ground’s global reach, audiences around the world will learn this powerful history.”

  • Synopsis: Descendant follows members of Africatown, a small community in Alabama, as they share their personal stories and community history as descendants of the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to illegally transport human beings as cargo from Africa to America. The ship’s existence, a centuries-old open secret, is confirmed by a team of marine archeologists. The film explores implications of the Clotilda’s discovery for the descendants, who grapple with their heritage while claiming the power to shape their own destinies.  

  • This is the tenth film or series that Netflix and Participant have collaborated on including American Factory with Higher Ground. 

  • Participant will be incorporating Descendant into its ongoing impact work dedicated to advancing both social and racial justice.

  • Descendant is dedicated to the late Diane Weyermann, Chief Content Officer at Participant.


Founded by Chairman Jeff Skoll and under the leadership of CEO David Linde, Participant ( combines the power of a good story well told with real world impact and awareness around today’s most vital issues. Through its worldwide network of traditional and digital distribution, aligned with partnerships with key non-profit and NGO organizations, Participant speaks directly to the rise of today’s “conscious consumer,” representing the well over 2 billion consumers compelled to make meaningful content a priority focus. As an industry content leader, Participant annually produces up to six narrative feature films, six documentary films, three episodic television series, and more than 20 hours of digital short form programming. Participant’s more than 100 films have collectively earned 82 Academy Award® nominations and 21 wins, including Best Picture for Spotlight and Green Book; Best Documentary Feature for An Inconvenient Truth, CITIZENFOUR, The Cove and American Factory; and Best Foreign Language Film for Roma and A Fantastic Woman. Participant also has earned 44 EMMY® Award nominations and 11 wins, including two wins for the groundbreaking When They See Us.  Follow Participant on Twitter (@Participant) and on Facebook and Instagram


Two One Five Entertainment, founded by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, is a full-service storytelling and content development media company. The foundation of the company is built upon compelling storytelling through the creation of films, short form and long form digital content, theatrical experiences and documentary styled content. Two One Five has produced content for partners such as AMC, Disney, Amazon, VH1, BET, You Tube and Twitch. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Tariq Trotter, The Roots and Two One Five are all represented by Shawn Gee of Maverick Management.


Higher Ground, founded by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, tells powerful stories that entertain, inform, and inspire while elevating new and diverse voices in the entertainment industry. Higher Ground produces film and television exclusively with Netflix, and podcasts exclusively with Spotify. The company’s first film release, American Factory, won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and its first podcast, The Michelle Obama Podcast, is the most listened to Spotify Original to date. Higher Ground’s film releases include Becoming, directed by Nadia Hallgren, and the Oscar-nominated documentary, Crip Camp. Waffles + Mochi, the company’s first television series, debuted in March to wide acclaim. The company produced the hit podcast Renegades: Born in the USA, a series of conversations between President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen and released as a New York Times bestselling book based on the podcast. Higher Ground also released Tell Them, I Am, a podcast collection of universal stories from Muslim voices and recently announced the upcoming podcast The Big Hit Show, a series of audio documentaries hosted by Alex Pappademas that focus on the pieces of popular culture that have defined and changed our culture. Upcoming projects include Blackout, a film and TV event adapted from six different love stories, and an untitled comedy series from Regina Hicks, both at Netflix.