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black panthers poster Opening September 2, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Stanley Nelson’s fascinating documentary looking at the rise and fall of civil rights movement The Black Panthers.

Multiple-award winning documentarian Nelson (Wounded Knee, Freedom Riders) delves into the history of the Panthers movement, using archival material and fascinating talking head interviews to tell the story of the group who rose out of America’s ghettos to demand racial equality, and the controversy surrounding their methodologies. With issues of race still being firmly in the spotlight, thanks to films like Ava DuVernay’s stunning Selma and social movements like #BackLivesMatter, Nelson’s compelling, incisive film is a timely reminder of the genesis of the revolution.

It’s a also a stark commentary on a culture that both motivated and repressed such a revolution, and an eye-opening study how the upper echelons of society – J Edgar Hoover’s ruthless FBI – fought to crush it at every turn. The most shocking aspect of Nelson’s film is, however, how painfully relevant its message still is.

AWFJ Movie of the Week Panelists Comments:

Pam Grady: Two generations before the rise of #BlackLivesMatter, the Black Panthers were the new face of the civil rights movement, dedicated to revolution while serving the Black community with a variety of programs and caught in the cross-hairs of hostile law enforcement. The group and the era come alive again in award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s fascinating documentary The Black Panthers: The Vanguard of the Revolution.

Jennifer Merin: Drawing on compelling archival material, documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson cuts through the mythology and dogma — bad and good — associated with the Black Panthers to reveal the true nature and focus of the controversial group that rose from ghetto obscurity to international prominence and influence, making the world aware of severe racial injustice in the United States, and demanding change. The film is essential viewing for all who are concerned about political evolution and the ongoing struggle for equal rights.

Film Details:
Title: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Director: Stanley Nelson
Release Date: September 2, 2015
Running Time: 113 mins
Language: English
Production Company: Firelight Film
Official Site

AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Nikki Baughan, Anne Brodie, Pam Grady, Leba Hertz, MaryAnn Johanson, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Katherine McLaughlin, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Perri Nemiroff, Kristy Puchko, Sheila Roberts, Liz Whittemore, Jeanne Wolf.

Other Movies Opening the Week of August 31-September 6:
August 31
Eden Court
One Stormy Night
Our Friend John
September 1
White Settlers
Lords of London
Queen of Carthage
Higher Power
Uncommon Bread and Butter
Welcome to Bridgetown
They Returned
Einstein’s God Model
How the Sky Will Melt
Waiting for Butterflies
Bone Deep
9 Line
The Abundance Factor
The Welder
A Perfect Chord
The Return

September 2
A Walk in the Woods
Ciudad Delirio
She Wins

September 4
The Transporter Refueled
Before We Go
Dragon Blade
Chloe and Theo
Dirty Weekend
Summer Forever
Bloodsucking Bastards
Welcome Back
Contracted: Phase II
Call Me King
Heroes In Dirt
Second Chance

September 6
The Family Business
The Curse of Jengo

Edited by Sandra Kraisirideja, Associate Editor

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Nikki Baughan

Nikki Baughan is a London-based freelance film critic and features writer. Formerly editor of both Film Review and movieScope magazines, Nikki is currently contributes to various print and online publications, including Screen International, BFI, The List and Film Divider.