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TIFF Trailer Watch: Searing Doc 'Free Angela & All Political Prisoners' Chronicles Turbulent Life of Activist Angela Davis

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood August 29, 2012 at 3:09PM

Check out the first trailer for Shola Lynch's documentary "Free Angela & All Political Prisoners," an official selection at Toronto in September. The film details the turbulent life of radical activist Angela Davis, a member of the Communist Party, associate of the Black Panthers and UCLA philosophy professor who was charged in 1970 with conspiracy in kidnapping and murdering Judge Harold Haley from the Marin County courthouse.
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Free Angela

Check out the first trailer for Shola Lynch's documentary "Free Angela & All Political Prisoners," an official selection at Toronto in September. The film details the turbulent life of radical activist Angela Davis, a member of the Communist Party, associate of the Black Panthers and UCLA philosophy professor who was charged in 1970 with conspiracy in kidnapping and murdering Judge Harold Haley from the Marin County courthouse.

Davis' admirers include Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, who will be attending TIFF to present the world premiere of Lynch's documentary.

Here's more info from the festival's programming notes:

Built around new interviews with Davis, the film recounts her Alabama upbringing, her studies in the U.S. and Europe, and the start of her academic career in the philosophy department at UCLA, where she quickly drew fire for her membership in the CP — which then-governor Ronald Reagan publicly labelled a "provocation." (Reagan would later amend this, claiming that what really irked him was Davis’ "unprofessionalism.") A campaign began to have Davis banned from teaching anywhere in the state. She began receiving death threats, which led her to purchase her first firearm.

But Davis’ problems had only just begun: in 1970, she was charged with conspiracy in kidnapping and murder following Jonathan Jackson’s dramatic daylight abduction of Judge Harold Haley from the Marin County courthouse, which ended with Jackson, Haley, and two others dead in a shootout with police. Chronicling Davis’ time in hiding, her eventual arrest and highly publicized trial via archival footage and her own words, this captivating documentary has all the fascination of a crime thriller and a courtroom drama, while touching on contentious issues around racial prejudice, gun control and freedom of speech.

This article is related to: Toronto International Film Festival, Video, Trailers, Free Angela & All Political Prisoners


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.