By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
By Claire Lawton
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Anna Merlan
What did you learn about each woman that you didn’t already know?
Their sense of humor. Both Chisholm and Davis have a great sense of humor. In fact, it wasn’t until the premiere at the Toronto Film Festival that I realized how funny, as in absurd, some parts of Free Angela are. The audience laughed out loud. I hesitate to say this because the doc is definitely not a comedy.
What would you want viewers to take away from the films--about the women, about the eras in which they were doing such risky and dangerous work?
I don’t think either Chisholm or Davis saw their actions as risky or dangerous, just necessary. They were called by a situation to stand up or shut-up. They both chose to stand up.
As Free Angela made its way in the world, what surprised you or caught you off guard in conversation about the film? What annoyed you?
I didn’t know how funny parts of the film are, as I already mentioned. I’m annoyed that some reporters assume that, as a black woman, I can’t be objective about telling the story of another black woman. One reporter even accused me of hiding a critical fact around the guns. That is just nuts. It would be far better for my career if all my research unearthed that she was guilty; it just didn’t turn out that way.
Are you working on anything right now? Are you at liberty to talk about it?
I’d like to get the Free Angela book project off the ground. There are so many newly unearthed facts that I’d like to add to the narrative. But don’t worry--it’s nothing that changes the narrative or outcome of the doc, but only makes [things] more clear.
My next movie project will be re-imaging Harriet Tubman. I’ll make a short experimental doc to research and write the script for the action movie, which I’ll direct. Tubman’s power is that she could cloak herself in invisibility. In other words, she literally used others’ low expectations of her against them. She used her powers to liberate herself but then also thousands of others from bondage. She was truly a legendary antislavery freedom-fighter. We should remember her that way. Incidentally, there is a love story in there, too.
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