An amazing treasure trove of previously unseen footage (shot for Swedish TV) provides startling new insights into the American civil rights movement and the ascendancy of Black Power.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2011
US anger over Sweden’s vocal opposition to the Vietnam War put a freeze on official relations between the two from 1968 to 1975. This documentary draws from a recently discovered trove of 16mm footage recorded in the US by Swedish TV reporters during that time. Investigating social inequities, they documented African American communities and interviewed key Black Power figures. The crisply shot footage and the direct, engaging interviews they elicited stand in contrast to the grainy, fearsome American TV imagery that usually tells their story. Even the occasional naivety of the Swedish interlocutors has its upside for history: Angela Davis responds to a question about the movement’s alleged espousal of violence with a torrent of outrage that is electrifying in its lucidity and heartbreaking in its justness 40 years later. Filmmaker Göran Hugo Olsson honours the provenance of the stories he’s found by enlisting commentary from a range of African American figures, some who were there, others who carry the torch today. — BG