Shola Lynch: Free Angela

With the subtitle… and all political prisoners, an addition that Angela Davis, the person in question, the hero of the film, the charismatic icon of the Black Power movement, imprisoned in 1970 for involvement in the killing of a judge, with other victims, being the owner of the murder weapon… an addition that Davis insisted on during her time in jail, trying to avoid the focus on her alone, in vain, as she became a symbol for freedom and justice all over the world, including the communist world. Davis was a member of the American Communist party until 1991.

”You know her name, know her story”, says the text on the film poster, right, at least for my generation, but the historical details, the events back in 1970, are good to meet again, as you do in this classically told documentary that uses archive, interviews and the voice of Angela Davis herself, in and out of the image. With the emphasis on the time leading up to her arrest, the trial and the release due to the decision of an all-white jury.

Good to meet her again in a dramatised form that appeals to the emotions, when you see and hear Angela’s sister and others fight for her release then, travelling the world to get support, as well as the lawyers that had her case… not to forget the love story between Davis and Black Panther icon George Jackson (shot dead in 1971) that was used against her by the prosecutor.

You could argue that it would have been interesting to know what happened to Davis in the following decades, the director decided not to go in that direction even if Davis herself (born 1944, still with big impressive hair and characteristic smile), in the film, indicates that the events back then has shaped her life as an activist and fighter for black women’s rights.

The distributor in France mk2 has published an interview (in French) with Angela Davis and the director in the magazine Trois Couleurs, link below. The film was seen in a mk2 cinema in Paris.

Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3876