Free Angela and All Political Prisoners
Shola Lynch’s authoritative and gripping documentary portrait of one of the most significant figures of the American civil rights movement.
Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.
- Director-Screenwriter Shola Lynch
- Producer Carole Lambert, Shola Lynch, Carine Ruszniewski, Sidra Smith
- USA-France 2012
- 101 mins
- Sales Elle Driver
Angela Davis was an icon for the militant civil rights movement that won prominence in America during the late 1960s. A formidable figure with a distinctive Afro hairstyle, she was forced to leave her teaching position at the University of California in 1969 because of her affiliation to the Communist Party. Despite being hounded and vilified, she became active in a high-profile campaign to get justice for the Soledad Brothers, three black prison inmates accused of killing a white guard. Her involvement in this cause led her to be implicated in a botched kidnapping attempt, after which she fled underground. Her subsequent arrest and trial transfixed a divided nation, while the campaign for her release spread worldwide. Alongside incredible archive footage and interviews with many involved in her trial, Davis appears in Shola Lynch’s authoritative and gripping documentary, reflecting with remarkable frankness and dignity on being branded a terrorist and making the FBI’s ‘most wanted’ list, while also inspiring great support and devotion.
What does somebody do when faced with enormous pressure from power? How do you respond to that? And her choices are clear and they’re documented. And I think what’s difficult about her is she doesn’t apologise for her choices. And she appears to be so strong. And in 1970, there just were not that many women, let alone women of colour, who projected that persona in the world. Think about it. When we turned on the television what were we looking at? When we looked in the magazines, what were we looking at? The power of the Panthers was this visual show of strength and for women, Angela was that in so many ways […] One thing that was exciting for me as a director was this is the first time that I actually shot re-creations. In a way, it’s almost like I shot two different films. I shot straight-ahead documentary and did the archival research with our team. And then there were moments where there’s no film and no footage and so, based on facts, I used my imagination to create the images I would have loved to have had available to me. Bradford Young is the cinematographer and Eisa Davis, who is Angela’s niece, played Angela. And so it really stretched me as a director and I loved it. I loved having so much control. And I think it adds to the emotional depth of the film.
Born in 1969 in Austin, Texas, and a child actress on Sesame Street, she studied Liberal Arts at the University of Texas, has a master’s degree in American History from the University of California, Riverside, and was for 15 years a track athlete. She became a protégée of documentarist Ken Burns on Frank Lloyd Wright and the TV series Jazz, then worked with HBO Sports on Do You Believe in Miracles? The Story of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team, and with Roja Productions on the Matters of Race series. Her feature documentary debut Chisholm ‘72 – Unbought and Unbossed played in the 2004 LFF.
2004 Chisholm ’72 – Unbought and Unbossed [doc]
2012 Free Angela and All Political Prisoners [doc]