Four decades after her arrest sparked a nation wide liberation movement, Angela Davis is still bringing together people for a cause. BET Networks, along with Jay-Z's Roc Nation and Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment, are jointly supporting a new documentary film about the renowned activist.
Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, directed by renowned documentarian Shola Lynch, will premiere at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival and marks the 40th anniversary of Davis' acquittal on charges of conspiracy, kidnapping and murder.
Free Angela is "a look at a specific period in time, Angela's journey and her role in the civil rights movement," says Charlie Jordan Brookins, Senior Vice President of Original Programming for BET Networks. After a chance encounter with Lynch at a women's leadership conference last year, Brookins "immediately said, 'what can we do to help this film?'"
Brookins brought Davis back into the spotlight by making her an honoree at last year's Black Girls Rock, and hopes the documentary will give audiences a deeper understanding of what the iconic activist stands for.
"People think they know Angela Davis," Brookins says. "They know the name, they've seen the afro on a t-shirt, but this is a chance for them to really know her story."
With BET providing funding and distribution for Lynch's seminal film, coupled with Jay-Z and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith for promotional support, Davis's message of activism will reach a whole new generation.
"Filmmaker Shola Lynch has done an incredible job in revealing piece of American history we thought we all knew," said Jada Pinkett Smith.
Jay-Z added, "Shola Lynch has crafted an intricate and compelling film about Anglea Davis. Roc Nation is honored to be a part of a creative collective that can present such a riveting story."
Carol Lambert, Shola Lynch, Carine Ruzniewski and Sidra Smith are also producing the film that chronicles Davis' trial and features interviews with the political leader, her lawyers, FBI agents assigned to the case and journalists. Davis' imprisonment undeniably was a landmark in American history and sparked a worldwide movement for her freedom.
"I'm sure some people will be surprised and angered by what they see," Brookins concludes. "But we hope audiences feel inspired to take ownership about this thing they are passionate about and do something constructive with it."
Free Angela & All Political Prisoners premieres at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and will air on BET following its theatrical run.
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(Photo: UPI Photo/Landov)