It was in January 2011 when Halle Berry first voiced her interest in exploring the life of Angela Davis on screen in a scripted film; in an issue of Jet magazine that month, which included an interview with Berry, she said the following: “I’ll probably never get to play it in my life and I am going to be sad until the day I die, but I really want to play Angela Davis badly. So badly. I just think she’s fascinating and I think I would love to tell a story from her perspective about that time in our history, and what it was all about with the black panthers.“
She continued to mention her strong interest in an Angela Davis film for a few years after that, telling In Style magazine in 2012: “Her story is so fascinating. I would love to bring it to the screen. I would pick her brain to have a better understanding of her affiliation with the Black Panthers and that period from the 1960s.”
Obviously nothing ever came of all the chatter.
Right around the same period, French-Algerian filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb announced plans for an Angela Davis biopic which he was rumored to be courting Beyonce to star in. It also never happened.
An Angela Davis film that did make it to the finish line is Shola Lynch’s documentary, “Free Angela & All Political Prisoners,” which premiered in 2012, detailing the high stakes crime, political movement, and trial that catapulted the 26 year-old newly appointed philosophy professor at the University of California at Los Angeles into a seventies revolutionary political icon. The documentary “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975” also touched a bit on the matter. Both films are available on various home video formats if you haven’t seen them – and you should see them.
Most recently, in May of this year, an unauthorized Angela Davis film was put into development – a scripted feature film and not a documentary.
Writer LaToya Morgan (“Shameless,” “Turn: Washington’s Spies”) sold an Angela Davis script to film production company The Firm.
“Although the events of this film take place three decades ago, Angela Davis’ story holds a strong relevance in today’s political and social landscape, and we are excited and honored to tell it along with LaToya,” said Firm film division president Robbie Brenner at the time.
Unless Brenner misspoke, if the events in the film will take place three decades ago, it would mean that it will not be telling a story of Davis’ most publicly active years as a prominent activist and radical in the 1960s, with close relations to the Black Panther Party, and her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement – her arrest, trial, acquittal, etc.
Three decades ago would the mid-1980s; Davis devoted most of her time to Academia from around 1980 through today. Although she’s still remained politically active, giving speeches and lectures around the country on various topical issues.
But no other details on the project have been made public at this time; certainly no word on casting, director, or ETA.
Whether Angela Davis herself is involved in the making of the film, wasn’t said.
But it’s a project that I’m certainly watching this one closely.
Announced this evening, there’s another Angela Davis film in development. Codeblack Films has acquired the movie rights to “Angela Davis: An Autobiography” with plans to develop and produce an authorized Angela Davis biopic, which will be produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi (“Fruitvale Station,” “Dope”).
Sidra Smith, a producer on the 2012 documentary “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners,” and Codeblack CEO Jeff Clanagan will also serve as producers on the project.
Angela Davis herself will be involved in the film’s making, serving as executive producer along with her niece Eisa Davis, who is also penning the script.
No ETA at this time.
You’ll recall that Codeblack released Shola Lynch’s documentary, “Free Angela & All Political Prisoners,” in 2012.
So there are at least 2 Angela Davis films to watch for, although each may tackle the subject differently. Also one is authorized and the other is not.