At the Television Critics Association winter tour last month, PBS unveiled a strong and quite robust winter/spring 2017 season lineup that included a lot of original programming readers of this blog will be interested in, including an INDEPENDENT LENS documentary titled “Birth of a Movement,” from producer-directors Susan Gray and Bestor Cram. A project we first alerted you to last fall, it now is set to make its official premiere on PBS tonight, at 10pm. We also have a trailer and a couple of clips for you to look at below, ahead of the broadcast.
An investigation into how D.W. Griffith’s incendiary 1915 film “The Birth of a Nation” unleashed a battle still being waged today over race relations and representation, and the power and influence of Hollywood movie/tv-making, the documentary tells the little-known story of African American newspaper editor and activist William M. Trotter who, after “Birth of a Nation’s” release, waged a battle against Griffith’s notoriously Ku Klux Klan-friendly blockbuster movie, launching what would become a nationwide movement that sought to denounce the work.
“Birth of a Movement” is based on the book “The Birth of a Movement: How Birth of a Nation Ignited the Battle for Civil Rights” by Dick Lehr. It features the contributions of familiar names like Spike Lee, Reginald Hudlin, Jelani Cobb, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and DJ Spooky (who created a new score and remix of the original Griffith film), as well as numerous clips from the technically groundbreaking, but deeply racially problematic epic. The documentary promises to be a revelation for cinephiles, history buffs, and anyone interested in America’s tumultuous racial evolution, exploring how Griffith’s film continues to motivate African American filmmakers as they work to reclaim their history and their onscreen image.
A Monday (that’s tonight), February 6 at 10 p.m. ET premiere on PBS, as part of its INDEPENDENT LENS film series, is set for “Birth of a Movement.” We will be watching, and possibly live-tweeting it, so join us on Twitter (@shadowandact).
The network has released a first trailer as well as 2 clips from the documentary, all of which are embedded below: