IFC Films said Tuesday that it acquired North American rights to MLK/FBI, the Sam Pollard-directed documentary that premiered today at the Toronto Film Festival and will play at the New York Film Festival too. IFC Films will release the film on January 15, 2021, ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday and the hope is to factor in the Oscar race.
MLK/FBI is the first film to uncover the extent of the FBI’s surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Based on newly discovered and declassified files, utilizing a trove of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and unsealed by the National Archives, as well as revelatory restored footage, the documentary explores the government’s history of targeting Black activists, and the contested meaning behind some of our most cherished ideals. Featuring interviews with key cultural figures including former FBI director James Comey, MLK/FBI tells this astonishing and tragic story with searing relevance to our current moment.
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The film was produced by Benjamin Hedin for Tradecraft Films in association with Field of Vision, Play/Action Pictures and Cinetic Media. Executive producers include David Friend, Field of Vision’s Charlotte Cook, Play/Action’s Jeffrey Lurie and Marie Therese Guirgis, and Cinetic Media’s Kate Hurwitz, Dana O’Keefe and Steven Farneth. Based on the book The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr.: From “Solo” to Memphis by David J. Garrow, MLK/FBI was written by Benjamin Hedin and Laura Tomaselli.
Pollard’s films include Four Little Girls, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, Slavery by Another Name, Sammy Davis, Jr.: I Gotta Be Me, ACORN and the Firestorm, Why We Hate, and Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children. He also directed two episodes of the series Eyes on the Prize II. Since 1994, Pollard has served on the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and lives in New York City.
“What an honor to have IFC support and distribute MLK/FBI,” Pollard commented. “I can’t think of any other company that will show the care and responsibility to get what I consider an important film out to a viewing audience.”
Arianna Bocco, EVP Acquisitions and Productions at IFC Films, added: “Sam Pollard has dedicated his career to social and political activism through film, and we’re honored to partner with him on a project of such magnitude and relevance in the current climate. We’re proud to bring this newly discovered information and restored footage of MLK to audiences nationwide, as his story continues to unfold, inspire and motivate throughout history.”
The deal for the film was negotiated by IFC’s Bocco and Director of Acquisitions Aijah Keith with Cinetic Media on behalf of the filmmakers.
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