“Birth of a Movement”, PBS Documentary on William Monroe Trotter and his Protest of Original “The Birth of a Nation”, Premieres Feb. 6

birth-movement-boston-premeire-50

(Image via boston.eventful.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Birth of a Movement, a documentary about African-American newspaper editor William Monroe Trotter‘s 1915 battle against America’s first blockbuster movie – D.W. Griffith‘s infamous The Birth of a Nation – will have its broadcast premiere Feb 6, 2017 on Independent Lens/PBS.

The documentary film was produced and directed by Bestor Cram and Susan Gray at NLP in Boston, is executive produced by Sam Pollard and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (who is also interviewed in the film), is narrated by Danny Glover, and written by filmmaker Kwyn Bader and Edgar Award Winner and Pulitzer nominee Dick Lehr. Spike Lee and Reginald Hudlin appear in the film, as does Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky, who provided the score. There are also premiere screenings – open to the public – in Boston and NYC on Jan 30 and 31st, respectively.

For Boston ticket info, click here: http://boston.eventful.com/events/birth-movement-boston-premeire-/E0-001-098857426-8

For New York City ticket info, click herehttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/films-at-the-schomburg-birth-of-a-movement-the-battle-against-americas-first-blockbuster-tickets-30972781423

Antoine Fuqua and LeBron James Make Deal with HBO for Multi-Part Muhammad Ali Documentary

Muhammad Ali Documentary Coming to HBO

Muhammad Ali (PETER BROOKER/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Debra Birnbaum via Variety.com

The “Greatest of All Time” is getting the HBO treatment.  The cabler is partnering with director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) and LeBron James for a multi-part documentary about the life of Muhammad Ali.

The as yet-untitled documentary, which will explore Ali’s greatest triumphs and comebacks, has started production. It hails from James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment and Fuqua’s Fuqua Films. No air date has been set.

“Muhammad Ali is indisputably one of the most iconic and distinctive figures in the history of world sports,” said Kary Antholis, president of HBO miniseries and Cinemax. “His impact resonates far beyond the boxing ring and is woven deep into the cultural and social tapestry of the second half of the 20th century. From the moment LeBron James told us of his deep visceral connection to Ali’s life and legacy, we were committed to helping him realize this film, and our enthusiasm has only grown as Antoine Fuqua has developed his compelling cinematic vision for telling one man’s incredible journey.”

Said Fuqua, “Muhammad Ali meant many things to many people, and he is someone who had a deep impact on me from an early age. Being given the opportunity to tell his story, both inside and outside of the ring, is a privilege, and a dream come true.”

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/hbo-muhammad-ali-documentary-hbo-lebron-james-antoine-fuqua-1201939411/

PBS to Air Documentary on William Monroe Trotter, a Black Newspaper Editor Who Fought Against Original “The Birth of a Nation”

William Monroe Trotter (photo via colorlines.com)

article by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

As D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” contributed to the Ku Klux Klan’s resurgence nearly 100 years ago, pioneering Black newspaper editor and activist William Monroe Trotter fought to ban the film in his native Boston. An upcoming PBS doc will explore his battle against the infamous 1915 film.

Birth of a Movement focuses on Trotter’s mobilization of community protests, which included an attempt to see the movie with supporters that ended in a scuffle and his arrest. These protests were part of a career spent critiquing segregationist policy that included founding and editing The Boston Guardian, criticizing Booker T. Washington, helping to create the NAACP and leading the National Equal Rights League. Trotter’s activism grew into a broader movement to combat the film’s violent aftermath.

The documentary premieres February 6 at 10 p.m. as part of PBS’ “Independent Lens” series.

To read more, go to: PBS to Air Doc on Black Editor Who Fought Original ‘The Birth of a Nation’ | Colorlines

Documentary on Floyd Norman, 1st Black Animator at Disney, Now on Netflix

article via shadowandact.com

After a theatrical run in USA theaters that kicked off in late August, the documentary “Floyd Norman – An Animated Life” – an intimate journey through the celebrated life and career of the legendary animator Floyd Norman, the first African American animator at Disney – is now streaming on Netflix.

Directed by Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey, the crowd-pleaser recently won the award for Best documentary at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con. Born in 1935 in Santa Barbara, Norman’s love of animation first came when his mother took him to see Disney’s “Bambi” and “Dumbo.”  By the time he was a high schooler, he knew his goal was to be an animator at Disney Studios. After graduation, with the help of a friend, Norman got an appointment at Disney and he walked into Disney Studios, portfolio in hand, for an interview. But instead of getting a job, he was told to go to school, which Norman said later was the best advice anyone had ever given him. He entered the Art Center College of Design and two years later, got a call to go work for Disney. He dropped out of school and started working at the studio the following Monday.

He worked on various features including “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Sword in the Stone,” “The Jungle Book,” and several short subjects. He left Disney after Walt Disney died in 1966, and, with Ron Sullivan, formed AfroKids Animation Studio. Among the other properties they created was the first “Fat Albert” television special which aired in 1969 on NBC (the later more well-known Fat Albert TV series was made by Filmation Associates, not AfroKids). But starting in the early 1970s, Norman returned to Disney to work on projects like “Robin Hood.”

To read more, go to: Award-Winning New Doc on Floyd Norman, 1st Black Animator to Work for Disney, Now Streaming on Netflix – Shadow and Act

Michelle Obama Supports CNN Film “We Will Rise” on Global Education for Girls, Which Premieres Today

First Lady Michelle Obama "We Will Rise" (photo via education.microsoft.com)

First Lady Michelle Obama “We Will Rise” (photo via education.microsoft.com)

article by Michelle Obama via cnn.com

For me, education has never been simply a policy issue — it’s personal.

Neither of my parents and hardly anyone in the neighborhood where I grew up went to college. But thanks to a lot of hard work and plenty of financial aid, I had the opportunity to attend some of the finest universities in this country. That education opened so many doors and gave me the confidence to pursue my ambitions and have a voice in the world.

For me, education was power.

And a few years ago, when I had the honor of meeting Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head just for trying to go to school, this issue got really personal for me. I saw that the terrorists who nearly killed her were trying to silence her voice, snuff out her ambitions, and take away her power.

That’s why I decided to work on global girls’ education as first lady: because right now, there are tens of millions of girls like Malala in every corner of the globe who are not in school — girls who are so bright, hardworking and hungry to learn. And that’s really the mission of the Let Girls Learn initiative we launched last year: It’s a global effort to give these girls the education they need to fulfill their potential and lift up their families, communities and countries.

Now, as first lady, I have no budget of my own for programs, and I have no authority to make or pass laws. That’s why, when we first launched Let Girls Learn, many folks doubted that we could make a real impact on this global issue.  But over the past year and a half, we’ve established partnerships with some of the world’s largest companies and organizations that are committing money, resources and expertise. We’re collaborating with countries like Canada, Mexico and the Nordic countries on girls’ education efforts. Countries like Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom have collectively pledged nearly $600 million.

The United States is investing over a billion dollars through new and ongoing efforts and running Let Girls Learn programs in more than 50 countries. The World Bank Group will be investing $2.5 billion over the next five years. And through social media campaigns, Let Girls Learn has rallied people across America and across the globe to step up and be champions for girls worldwide.

All this is happening because time and again, whether it’s a head of state, a corporate CEO, or a 15-year-old girl here in the United States, when people hear the stories of girls who aren’t in school, they want to help.   That’s why CNN’s new film on global girls’ education, “We Will Rise,” airing for the first time this week, is so critically important — because it tells these girls’ stories.

This powerful film chronicles the lives of some of the girls I visited this past summer in Liberia and Morocco, two countries in Africa where many girls struggle to get an education. I was joined in my travels by the actors and activists Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto, who are also passionate about girls’ education, as well as CNN anchor Isha Sesay.

Together, we sat down with girls in both countries to discuss the barriers they face and the dreams they hold for their futures. Like so many girls around the world, many of these girls come from families struggling with poverty. Some endure dangerous commutes to and from school each day. Others face cultural pressures to drop out, marry young and start having children of their own.

But these girls have big plans for their lives. They want to attend college and become doctors, teachers, engineers, entrepreneurs; and day after day, they do whatever it takes to get the education they need to fulfill their dreams. They get up before dawn, and spend hours harvesting crops, cooking for their families and tending to their younger siblings before heading to class. After school, they work as maids and in factories, and they study for hours late into the night.

I hope you will be as moved by their stories as I was — and I hope you’ll visit LetGirlsLearn.gov to learn more about how you can take action to help girls like them worldwide go to school.  Unlike so many girls around the world, we have a voice. That’s why, particularly on this year’s International Day of the Girl, I ask that you use yours to help these girls get the education they deserve. They’re counting on us, and I have no intention of letting them down. I plan to keep working on their behalf, not just for the rest of my time as first lady, but for the rest of my life. I hope you will join me.

Nat Turner’s Alleged Skull Returned to Great-Great-Great-Great Granddaughters After 185 Years

Shanna Batton Aguirre, a fourth generation descendant of Nat Turner, holds a box containing what some believe is Turner’s skull. (PHOTOGRAPH BY JED WINER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)

article by Justin Fornal via news.nationalgeographic.com

PUBLISHED OCTOBER 7, 2016: A small group gathered today in a hotel suite on the outskirts of Gary, Indiana. The nine formally-dressed guests joined hands while standing around a table containing only a white box. Reverend John Jackson of Trinity United Church of Christ started the prayer.  “Eternal God, we are gathered here today to honor you, and to honor the legendary liberator, emancipator of the enslaved, and revolutionary of righteous, the Reverend Nathaniel Turner.”

The gathering’s 83-year-old host, Richard Gordon Hatcher, who served as Gary’s mayor from 1968 to 1987, planned the event at which a skull alleged to be Turner’s was turned over to his descendants.   The guests of honor, Shannon Batton Aguirre and Shelly Lucas Wood, both great-great-great-great granddaughters of Turner, flew in from Washington D.C. to accept the remains.

In 1831, after receiving what he believed to be prophecies from God, Nat Turner led the bloodiest slave revolt in American history. Accompanied by a small army of his brethren, the group fought their way through the countryside of Southampton County, Virginia, with hopes of ending the scourge of slavery. When the bloodletting ended, more than 55 whites lay dead.

The local militia quelled the uprising within 48 hours, but Turner managed to elude his pursuers. After two months he was captured, tried, and on November 11th, he was hanged from a tree in the town of Jerusalem, now Courtland, Virginia. It is here that the facts surrounding Turner end and speculation and lore begin. (Read about Turner’s complex legacy.)

Many stories have circulated about the fate of Turner’s remains after his hanging. Several versions claim that he was flayed, quartered, and decapitated before his torso was finally buried in the local pauper’s cemetery. His skull and brain were then sent away for study.

During the recent filming of the National Geographic Studios documentary Rise Up: The Legacy of Nat Turnerthere were frequent discussions with descendants and historians about the fate of Turner’s remains. Several had heard reports or read newspaper articles stating that the skull had been donated to former mayor Hatcher at a 2002 charity gala for the Civil Rights Hall of Fame, a museum project Hatcher has long championed.

To read full article, go to: After 185 Years, Nat Turner’s Alleged Skull Returned to Family

Ava DuVernay’s Mass Incarceration Documentary “13th” Opens to Standing Ovation at New York Film Festival

New York Film Festival 2016 opening

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay (GREGORY PACE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Gordon Cox via Variety.com

Ava DuVernay’s “13th” opened the 54th New York Film Festival with a jolt of topical urgency, shaking up tradition as the first documentary to kick off the festival and addressing head-on the issue of mass incarceration and its historical roots. The crowd at the premiere screening rose to its feet when the credits rolled — and then did it a couple more times after that: once when the lights came up on the filmmakers, activists and academics involved in the film, and again when DuVernay appeared for a brief talkback after the movie.

Heightened security measures, a reaction to the Sept. 17 bombing in Chelsea, made the opening the first in recent memory to involve bomb-sniffing dogs and security wands. Famous faces including Oprah WinfreyCommon and Don Lemon turned out for the film, which confronts issues at the forefront of the current political conversation: race, inequality, the fallout of slavery, police brutality and Black Lives Matter.

“This moment, this Black Lives Matter moment, it’s not a moment. It’s a movement,” said DuVernay on the red carpet before the film’s world premiere (in words she would later echo when she addressed the crowd in the theater). “People thought, ‘Oh, will it last?’ Well, it has lasted. It’s changed things. It’s forced candidates to talk about things that they did not talk about in previous elections. It’s opened people’s minds. It’s changed art-making. It’s changed music. People are seeing things through a different filter now.”

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/new-york-film-festival-2016-opening-13th-ava-duvernay-1201875308/