American Documentary/POV Presents “The Color of Justice” Playlist, A Curated Selection of Films That Investigate Racial Inequality and Injustice in the U.S.
The Playlist, in Collaboration with PBS’ “Racism in America” Initiative, Begins Streaming August 12, 2020
NEW YORK, NY – August 12, 2020 – The subject of race in America remains an ongoing investigation into the anatomy of justice, equity and reform. In hopes of turning an eye to the past to illuminate ways in which a better future can be shaped, American Documentary/POV presents the new series The Color of Justice, a curated selection of critically acclaimed films that collectively delve into the intersection of racism, police brutality, extrajudicial killings, politics, Black and Brown lived experience, gender violence and the criminal justice system across the United States. The documentaries covering social events from the 1960s to present day, offer poignant insight into the effects of institutionalized systems of oppression and America’s continuous pursuit of peace, prosperity and equality. The Color of Justice premieres at pov.org on August 12, 2020 and will be streaming through September 30, 2020. Additional features and shorts will be added to this playlist as they become available.
"When PBS reached out about this opportunity, we recognized it as a chance to contribute to conversations unfolding across this country around the impacts of structural oppression and the tremendous resilience of Black and Brown communities as well as to showcase some of our archival titles and the tremendous talent behind them," said Justine Nagan, Executive Producer of POV and Executive Director of American Documentary. "Films like American Promise, told from the point of view of Black filmmakers speaking from their experience, illustrate the layered ways that white privilege manifests in American life. Yet we recognize that even in our collection, there are not enough BIPOC makers telling these stories. We are committed to presenting films that are creatively, intellectually and emotionally challenging, and to seeking out and supporting more filmmakers of color creating such works from their points of view."
"POV/PBS is a place where we have grown and felt validated for over three decades,” said Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, directors of the feature American Promise and the short The Changing Same. “‘The Color of Justice’ collection now turns up the volume on one of the most important discussions of our lifetime; the critical examination of race, equity, and justice. We thank POV for their courage and support."
"POV’s ‘The Color Of Justice’ series is a powerful collection of films that provides an intimate, personal perspective on the effects of structural racism,” said Denise A. Greene, Director of Programs at Black Public Media (BPM). “More importantly, the films uncover the heroic work of everyday activists and community leaders. There is a throughline from the clarion call depicted in these films to the voices we are hearing in today's movement for Black lives. BPM's long-standing partnership with POV is rooted in our shared commitment to elevating multiple perspectives and realities through stories. Bringing these films back to our audiences offers an opportunity to watch closer, interrogate further and deepen our collective resolve to dismantle racist systems that, sadly, Black Americans continue to encounter on a daily basis."
As a part of its mission, POV creates a suite of supplementary resources to deepen conversations and understanding of the themes presented in the films they present on-air, online and in communities. It is important to note that these resources were created in the year that each feature broadcast on PBS and have not been updated.
Below is the list of films and shorts featured in The Color of Justice playlist.
15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story directed by Nadine Pequeneza (2014) POV Season 27
Does sentencing a teenager to life without parole serve our society well? The United States is the only country in the world that routinely condemns children to die in prison. This is the story of one of those children, now a young man, seeking a second chance in Florida. At age 15, Kenneth Young received four consecutive life sentences for a series of armed robberies. Imprisoned for more than a decade, he believed he would die behind bars. Now a U.S. Supreme Court decision could set him free. 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story follows Young's struggle for redemption, revealing a justice system with thousands of young people serving sentences intended for society’s most dangerous criminals.
American Promise directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson (2014), POV Season 26
American Promise spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through Dalton, one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys' divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America's struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity. Winner of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award.
American Revolutionary: The Evolution Of Grace Lee Boggs directed by Grace Lee (2014), POV Season 27
Grace Lee Boggs, 98, is a Chinese American philosopher, writer, and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be. Rooted for 75 years in the labor, civil rights and Black Power movements, she challenges a new generation to throw off old assumptions, think creatively and redefine revolution for our times.
Every Mother's Son directed by Kelly Anderson and Tami Gold (2004), POV Season 17:
In the late 1990s, three victims of police brutality made headlines around the country: Amadou Diallo, the young West African man whose killing sparked intense public protest; Anthony Baez, killed in an illegal choke-hold; and Gary (Gidone) Busch, a Hasidic Jew shot and killed outside his Brooklyn home. Every Mother's Son profiles three New York mothers who unexpectedly find themselves united to seek justice and transform their grief into an opportunity for profound social change. It was Iris Baez, who had become a veteran activist since her son Anthony's death, who approached Amadou's mother, Kadiatou, and Gary's mother, Doris, after their sons were killed.
Herman's House directed by Angad Singh Bhalla (2013), POV Season 26:
Herman Wallace may be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in the United States; he's spent more than 40 years in a 6-by-9-foot cell in Louisiana. Imprisoned in 1967 for a robbery he admits he committed, he was subsequently sentenced to life for a killing he vehemently denies. Herman's House is a moving account of the remarkable expression his struggle found in an unusual project proposed by artist Jackie Sumell. Imagining Wallace's "dream home" began as a game and became an interrogation of justice and punishment in America. The film takes us inside the duo's unlikely 12-year friendship, revealing the transformative power of art.
Out in the Night directed by blair dorosh-walther (2015), POV Season 28:
In 2006, under the neon lights of a gay-friendly neighborhood in New York City, a group of African-American lesbians were violently threatened by a man on the street. The women fought back and were later charged with gang assault and attempted murder. The tabloids quickly dubbed them a gang of "Killer Lesbians" and a "Wolf Pack." Three pleaded guilty to avoid a trial, but the remaining four; Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain; maintained their innocence. The award-winning Out in the Night examines the sensational case and the women's uphill battle, revealing the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in our criminal justice system.
QUEST directed by Jonathan Olshefski (2018), POV Season 31:
Filmed with vérité intimacy for nearly a decade, QUEST is the moving portrait of a family from North Philadelphia. Beginning during the Obama presidency, Christopher "Quest" Rainey and his wife, Christine'a "Ma Quest," raise a family while nurturing a community of hip-hop artists in their basement home music studio. Epic in scope, QUEST is a vivid illumination of race and class in America and a testament to love, healing and hope.
Revolution '67 directed by Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno (2007), POV Season 20:
Revolution '67 is an illuminating account of events too often relegated to footnotes in U.S. history; the black urban rebellions of the 1960s. Focusing on the six-day Newark, N.J., outbreak in mid-July, Revolution '67 reveals how the disturbances began as spontaneous revolts against poverty and police brutality and ended as fateful milestones in America's struggles over race and economic justice. Voices from across the spectrum; activists Tom Hayden and Amiri Baraka, journalist Bob Herbert, Mayor Sharpe James, and other officials, National Guardsmen and Newark citizens recall lessons as hard-earned then, as they have been easy to neglect since.
The Return directed by Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega (2016), POV Season 29:
In 2012, California amended its "Three Strikes" law; one of the harshest criminal sentencing policies in the country. The passage of Prop. 36 marked the first time in U.S. history that citizens voted to shorten sentences of those currently incarcerated. Within days, the reintegration of thousands of "lifers" was underway. The Return examines this unprecedented reform through the eyes of those on the front lines; prisoners suddenly freed, families turned upside down, reentry providers helping navigate complex transitions and attorneys and judges wrestling with an untested law. At a moment of reckoning on mass incarceration, what can California's experiment teach the nation?
Two Towns of Jasper directed by Whitney Dow and Marco Williams (2003), POV Season 15:
In 1998 in Jasper, Texas, James Byrd, Jr., a black man, was chained to a pick-up truck and dragged to his death by three white men. The town was forever altered, and the nation woke up to the horror of a modern-day lynching. In Two Towns of Jasper, two film crews, one black and one white, set out to document the aftermath of the murder by following the subsequent trials of the local men charged with the crime. The result is an explicit and troubling portrait of race in America, one that asks how and why a crime like this could have occurred.
The Barber of Birmingham directed by Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday (2012), POV Season 25
In this 2012 Oscar-nominated short film, Alabama barber and civil rights veteran James Armstrong experiences the fulfillment of an unimaginable dream: the election of the first African-American president.
The Changing Same, directed by Joe Brewster and Michele Stepenson (2018), POV Shorts Season 2:
In the Florida Panhandle lies the provincial town of Marianna, Florida, where resident and poet L. Lamar Wilson runs a particular marathon in hopes of lifting the veil of racial terror caused by the town’s buried history.
A Conversation with My Black Son, directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Blair Foster (2018), POV Season 30:
For generations, parents of black boys across the U.S. have rehearsed, dreaded and postponed “The Conversation.” But when their boys become teenagers, parents must decide how to handle discussions about race. In this short film originally published by The New York Times Op-Docs, parents reveal their struggles with telling their black sons that they may be targets of racial profiling by the police.
A Debtor's Prison, directed by Brett Story and Todd Chandler (2018), POV Shorts Season 1:
In St. Louis County, the home of police-shooting victim Michael Brown, a practice with a long history has become systematic: the operation of modern-day debtors’ prisons. A Debtors' Prison follows two plaintiffs in an unfolding court case, Samantha Jenkins and Meredith Walker, as they describe the matrix of controls that subjected them to incarceration for being poor.
Edgecombe, directed by Crystal Kayiza (2020), POV Shorts Season 2:
Through the deeply personal truths of three local residents, Edgecombe examines the ways trauma repeats and reinvents itself in rural black communities.
GIVE, directed by David de Rozas (2018), POV Shorts Season 1:
GIVE explores collective representations of history, memory and culture; where pasts, presents and futures are molded by the blending of imagination, facts and love.
Graven Image, directed by Sierra Pettengill (2018), POV Shorts Season 1:
Using over 100 years of archival footage, director Sierra Pettengill explores the history of the largest Confederate monument, Georgia’s Stone Mountain.
The Color of Justice social media:
Produced by American Documentary, POV is the longest-running independent documentary showcase on American television. Since 1988, POV has presented films on PBS that capture the full spectrum of the human experience, with a long commitment to centering women and people of color in front of, and behind, the camera. It's on POV where American television audiences were introduced to groundbreaking works like Tongues Untied, The Act of Killing and American Promise and innovative filmmakers including Jonathan Demme, Nanfu Wang, and Laura Poitras. In 2018, POV Shorts launched as one of the first PBS series dedicated to bold and timely short-form documentaries.
Over a generation, POV has championed accessibility and innovation in nonfiction storytelling. POV Engage works with educators, community organizations and PBS stations to present hundreds of free screenings every year, inspiring dialogue around today's most pressing social issues. The series' interactive arm, POV Spark, creates and advances experiential forms of storytelling and programming, redefining U.S. public media to be more inclusive of emerging technologies and interactive makers.
POV films and projects have won 38 Emmy Awards, 25 George Foster Peabody Awards, 14 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards and the first-ever George Polk Documentary Film Award. Learn more at pbs.org/pov and follow @povdocs on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
About American Documentary, Inc.
American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.
Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Wyncote Foundation, Reva & David Logan Foundation, Open Society Foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding comes from Acton Family Giving, Nancy Blachman and David desJardins, Bertha Foundation, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Charitable Trust, Park Foundation, Sage Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Chris and Nancy Plaut, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee and public television viewers. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.